August 22, 2010
Each time I hear that a deposition
was made on December 28, 1993 by Jordan Chandler the word makes
me wince the statement made in the name of Jordan
Chander was surely NOT a deposition. Let us see what it
was and ask a few questions about it in this connection:
Was it a deposition?
If not, what was it?
Was the document authentic?
I wont pretend that I have full answers to all the above
questions but the major part of the information is already available
to me so let me share with you what I know for sure now.
WAS IT A DEPOSITION?
To be able to answer the first question we need to know what
document a deposition is. Legal encyclopedia (please be patient,
this is serious business and top important too) says: http://www.answers.com/topic/deposition
A deposition is the testimony of a party or witness
in a civil or criminal proceeding taken before
trial, usually in an attorneys office.
Deposition testimony is taken orally, with an attorney
asking questions and the deponent (the individual being
questioned) answering while a court reporter or tape
recorder (or sometimes both) records the testimony. Deposition
testimony is generally taken under oath, and the court
reporter and the deponent often sign affidavits attesting
to the accuracy of the subsequent printed transcript.
Depositions are a discovery tool discovery is
the process of assembling the testimonial and documentary evidence
in a case before trial. Other forms of discovery include interrogatories
(written questions that are provided to a party and require
written answers) and requests for production of documents.
Depositions are commonly used in civil litigation (suits
for money damages or equitable relief); they are not
commonly used in criminal proceedings (actions by a government
entity seeking fines or imprisonment).
The deposition, because it is taken with counsel present and
under oath, becomes a significant evidentiary document.
If the case goes to trial, the deposition can be used to impeach
(challenge) a party or witness who gives contradictory testimony
on the witness stand.
Let us sum up a few things before we go on:
Depositions can be used both in civil and criminal procedures,
though in civil suits they are used more often (in Michaels
a criminal investigation was going alongside a civil suit, so
it could be both) and are usually taken in an attorneys
office (this is important, please make a note of it)
The court reporter is to certify that the printed transcript
is correct. This is done in a separate affidavit paper which
is missing in Jordans case, but which we saw earlier as
a complete must accompanying all documents of the same kind.
Thus even simple declarations (not depositions!) of Tom Sneddon
and Ray Chandler always had an affidavit from a court reporter
attesting the accuracy of the text (see the documents disclosed
in connection with Ray Chandlers subpoena) .
The legal value of a deposition is so high that it can be used
in court to represent a witness there or to challenge the testimony
of another witness who is giving his testimony live.
So if Jordan had ever given a deposition it could have been
used in court, which it wasnt (because there was none).
But the most interesting points about a deposition are the
details of its procedure:
In cases pending in United States federal courts, depositions
are carried out under Rule 30 of the Federal Rules of
Prior to taking a deposition, the court reporter administers
the same oath or affirmation that the deponent would take if
the testimony were being given in court in front of a judge
To ensure an accurate record of statements made during a deposition,
a court reporter is present and typically transcribes
the deposition with stenographic equipment.
Thereafter, the court reporter makes a verbatim stenographic
record of all that is said during the deposition, in the
same manner that witness testimony is recorded in court.
Depending upon the amount in controversy and the ability of
the witness to appear at trial, audio or video recordings
of the deposition are sometimes taken as well (as it was
done with Michael in his Mexico deposition concerning the authorship
of his songs).
The examining attorney begins the deposition and may ask the
deponent a wide variety of questions. After the examining attorneys
questions are completed, the attorney representing the adverse
party in the litigation is permitted to ask follow-up questions
to clarify or emphasize the deponents testimony.
The attorney who has ordered the deposition questions the deponent
in a so-called direct examination (or direct
for short). Since nods and gestures cannot be recorded, the
witness is instructed to answer all questions aloud.
After the direct examination, other attorneys in attendance
cross-examine the witness. The first attorney may ask
more questions at the end, in re-direct, which may be followed
During the course of the deposition, one attorney or another
may object to questions asked.
Under the California Civil Discovery Act as enacted in 1957
and heavily revised in 1986, most objections must be given
on the record at the deposition or they are permanently
As with oral examination at trial, depositions can become heated
at times, with some attorneys asking harassing questions
to provoke witnesses into losing their tempers, some witnesses
giving evasive answers, and everyone using foul language. In
extreme situations, one side or the other may ask the reporter
to mark the record, then may suspend the deposition, demand
a rush transcript, and file an emergency motion to compel
a response, for a protective order, or for sanctions. Some courts
have magistrates or discovery commissioners who are on call
for such contingencies.
Under FRCP 30(d)(1) and its state counterparts, a deposition
normally must take place for no longer than seven hours on
one day, unless otherwise stipulated by the parties or ordered
by the court. California is the major exception, in that it
has no default time limit; depositions can theoretically
proceed indefinitely, or at least until the deposition
becomes so obviously excessive and burdensome that the deponent
is able to move for and obtain a protective order.
After the deposition, the transcript is then published in the
form of a hardcopy booklet, which is provided to the deponent
as well as to any party to the suit who wishes to purchase
The booklet will have the case caption (the name of the court,
case number, and names of the parties) on the front. Inside,
the pages have line numbers along the left margin, so
that the parties can precisely cite testimony by page and line
in later court documents. Timestamps are inserted into the margin
if a videorecording is being made (see Michaels deposition
The chief value of obtaining a deposition, as with any discovery
proceeding, is to give all litigant parties in a contested case
a fair preview of the evidence. The process provides
a level playing field of information among the litigants
and avoids surprises at trial (traditionally regarded as an
Another benefit of taking depositions is to preserve a witnesss
recollection while it is still fresh, since the trial may still
be months or years away. When a witnesss testimony
in open court is inconsistent with that given at deposition,
a party can introduce the deposition to impeach (or contradict)
In the event a witness is unavailable for trial (usually because
they are deceased, seriously ill, or live hundreds of miles
away), their deposition may be read or played before the jury
and made part of the record in the case, with the same legal
force as live testimony. In some states, stenographic, audio,
or video records of depositions can be offered into evidence
even if the witness is available.
Now that weve read the details let us make some more
One of the ideas of a deposition is to preserve a witness
recollection while it is still fresh, so taking a deposition
(as well as making a declaration) on December 28, 1993
or three and a half months after the civil suit was filed
by Larry Feldman on September 14, 1993, is ridiculous in the
A deposition is to be attended by the attorneys from both
sides so that they are able to cross-examine a witness in
the same way it is done in court. In case of Jordans declaration
no attorney representing Michael was present, so any cross-examination
was completely out of the question. Actually Johnnie
Cochran made it a point that no deposition from Jordan was ever
taken see Lisa Campbells book King
of Pops Darkest Hour published in 1994,
p. 183: In a taped interview, Johnnie Cochran stated
there was never a deposition taken from the boy. And
we dont even need Lisas testimony to this effect
because everyone knows that Jordans declaration came quite
unexpected for Michaels side which means that none
of his people were present there.
After the deposition is taken a verbatim tapescript is
made to record every word of a witness as if he was giving his
testimony in court (in a question/answer form).
Depositions do not allow any summaries made by a lawyer
the way it is done in Jordans declaration but should record
everything up to witnesss nod (in the form
of a yes answer). Jordans declaration does
not even remotely resemble the above type of a document
it is surely not a transcript (as you see from the picture)
and each of its paragraphs is worded by a lawyer as declarations
are drawn up by lawyers and are only signed by the declarant.
A copy of the deposition transcript should be given to the
attorney of the defendant. Over here the Chandlers
side even outdid themselves as not only did they evidently give
it to Michaels attorney back in 1993 but leaked the document
to the whole world on the eve of the 2005 trial to bias
public opinion and the jury against him.
However it may be interesting to apply the above requirement
(to provide a copy) to the so-called Linden affidavit.
You remember that it was made in autumn 1993 and served as the
basis for the strip search and, according to Lisa Campbells
book, a copy of it was never given to Jacksons side in
full they only showed them some pieces with the major
parts being blocked out. A thing like that might happen only
if Lindens affidavit was no deposition either otherwise
the attorneys should have been present and a copy of it should
have been provided as a complete must for the other side.
Let me repeat it here that the legal force of a deposition
is the same as that of a live testimony which means
that if Jordan had ever given it they wouldnt have needed
him in court. Which in its turn is proof of the fact that there
was never a deposition taken from him.
Why not? This would be a highly intriguing question to ask later,
but even at this stage it is clear that the Chandlers didnt
want the attorneys from the other side to be present at the
deposition and Jordan avoided to answer questions from Michaels
If any of you are still in doubt and are still tempted to call
Jordans declaration a deposition, please
listen to Ray Chandler complaining to Larry King in an
interview that the family was not asked to testify
all through the year 1993 and that is why they could
no longer wait and decided to settle.
If we are to believe Ray Chandler that Jordan Chandler never
gave a testimony during the year 1993 this will make our
job even easier as there is no need to prove anything at all
KING: Why did they settle?
CHANDLER: Why did they settle?
KING: Why did they settle?
CHANDLER: Oh. Well, you know, the allegations became public
in August of 93. The district attorney never filed a charge
or never intended to file a charge. The family was not asked
to testify all through the year of 93. A lawsuit was filed
they got civil lawyers. The civil lawyers said you cannot
wait. We dont know if the DA is going to file, if the
DA isnt going to file
So what was our first question?
WAS IT A DEPOSITION?
And what is the answer?
NOOOOOO, IT WASNT!
Let us see what answers we can get to the remaining two questions
(to be continued)
Thank you Helena for your generosity
sharing your investigation!