Why It’s Critical To Get A Stipulation To Go “Off The Record” In Deposition


When Alec Baldwin retires we’ll look back over his career, appreciate his different “periods,” and argue over when he shined most brightly. I’ll be torn between the current Alec Baldwin, a mischevious clown with serious acting and comedy chops, and an earlier, completely different Baldwin, handsome, hardened, narcissistic–kind of an asshole, really–that we see in Glengarry Glen Ross, The Juror, and Malice, from which this clip is pulled. I personally find his monologue in the opening minutes of Glengarry Glen Ross to be the most compelling (“Coffee is for closers!”), though he’s damn funny on 30 Rock.

This excerpt, though, is useful because it illustrates two points when defending a witness at deposition. First, if you can’t control your client sufficiently to prevent him or her from saying “I am God” at the wrong time, then look into another line of work. More technically, though, the clip illustrates the importance of securing a stipulation among all counsel to go “off the record,” meaning that the stenographer will no longer record testimony or colloquy. In the movie, one of the lawyers tells the reporter to stop reporting, and that seems sufficient. And I’ve found it usually is sufficient for one of the attorneys to say “off the record” or something similar. But, technically, an actual stipulation is required. See, Schwarzer, Tashima & Wagstaffe, Cal. Prac. Guid: Fed. Civ. Pro. Before Trial (The Rutter Group 2013), ยง11:1567, p.11-208. If you think you’re off the record, make sure the reporter’s hands aren’t moving, or your client’s declaration of divinity, or other gaffe, could become a bone of contention in the case.

About Alex Craigie

I am an AV-Preeminent rated trial lawyer. My practice focuses on helping companies throughout Southern California resolve employment and business disputes. The words in this blog are mine alone, and do not reflect the views of the Dykema law firm or its clients. Also, these words are not intended to constitute legal advice, and reading or commenting on this blog does not create attorney-client relationship. Reach me at acraigie@dykema.com. View all posts by Alex Craigie

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