A little paranoid?
All I did was say "Hello, nice to see you," to my opponent.
We were just about to start my client's deposition.
My client sued his doctor.
For medical malpractice.
We claim his doctor was careless and caused him harm.
His doctor denied all of our allegations.
Now, during the 'discovery' phase of his lawsuit, the attorney who represented the doctor we sued was going to question my client. In my office. In my conference room. There would be no judge there. There's no jury there. Just me, my client, the defense lawyer and a court stenographer. That's it.
This question and answer session is known as a deposition.
It's pretrial testimony.
Lawyers also call it an examination before trial.
Even though there's no judge or jury in the room, you should know that the answers you give during this deposition carry THE SAME EXACT WEIGHT as if you are testifying at trial in court.
When I walked into my conference room with my client, the defense lawyer was already there.
So was the court stenographer.
I knew the defense attorney.
We'd worked as opponents on quite a number of cases together over the course of our careers.
We'd gotten into major verbal brawls during other cases.
She screamed at me. I screamed at her.
Yet we hadn't seen each other in months on a case and now when I walked in, I was surprised to see her.
I said hello.
She said hello.
I said "Nice to see you."
She said the same.
I introduced her to my client and then we got to work.
Two hours later, when we took a quick break, my client told me he was furious.
He was angry.
I asked him what's going on.
He couldn't believe I was pleasant and polite to my opponent!
He thought we were working together to conspire against him and his case.
He thought I had to be a nasty and obnoxious son-of-a-bitch to her.
He fully expected me to be an angry and aggressive pit-bull and to make sure I was nasty to her, in front of him.
I said "What the heck are you talking about?"
He told me about his expectations of how I'd behave and react to my opponent.
He told me that after seeing so many TV and courtroom dramas in the movies that that is how I would behave.
I stopped him in his tracks.
"WHOA there tiger!" I said.
Those expectations are so wrong.
That's not what goes on in real cases in real life.
Maybe some attorneys are jerks and obnoxious bastards.
But I'm not one of them.
There's a time and place to be aggressive and righteous and demanding and your deposition is not that time.
Maybe during trial there's a time for that.
Maybe during settlement negotiations there's a time for that.
But during pretrial questioning where I exchange pleasantries with my opponent before we even get started? Sorry, but your expectation is sorely misplaced.