Three Important Questions to Ask at a Civil RICO Deposition

You have filed your civil RICO case on behalf of the plaintiff and have made it past the Rule 12(b) motions and are in discovery.  What should be the focus of your questions in depositions of relevant persons and parties?

  1. First, you would want to ask questions which would prove the existence of a RICO “enterprise.”  RICO’s definition of enterprise broadly encompasses many types of organizations, ranging from hierarchal groups to loosely associated groups of individuals and corporations who act with a common purpose and function as a continuing unit.  The typical proof of an enterprise would come from an examination of what the group does, which would be the focus of your questions.  Also, you would want to make sure that the RICO enterprise is “distinct” from the RICO defendant, that is, they are not the same.  A legal entity by definition is a RICO enterprise but you would want to be sure the RICO defendant is not this same legal entity. Proof of such an entity is usually straightforward based on documents.
  2. Second, you would want to ask questions to prove there is “racketeering activity.” Racketeering activity includes specifically enumerated federal crimes and certain state offenses. The federal offenses alleged in a civil RICO typically involve mail and mail and wire fraud. You would need to ask questions which would prove all of the elements of mail fraud and wire fraud. State offenses include bribery offenses, which commonly serve as predicate crimes for racketeering indictments against state and local officials for corruption.
  3. Third, you would need to solicit information as whether there is a “pattern of racketeering activity.”  To prove PORA, the plaintiff must show that the activity is both “related” and “continuous.”  Generally, the “relationship” prong is more easily proven, while the “continuity” prong may be proven in several ways, either by length of time of the predicates or  whether the predicates pose a “threat of continuing activity.”

There are many other issues involved in a complex civil RICO case, such as proving monetary injury proximately and directly caused by the “racketeering activity.”  Civil RICO cases are difficult to litigate through trial and generally difficult to get favorable rulings. However, the many advantages of a civil RICO case, such as broad venue, evidentiary advantages, potential treble damages and civil RICO litigation attorneys’ fees, provide support for bringing your fraud action in federal court.

This article is courtesy of David J. Stander, principal at the Law Office of David J. Stander LLC.  Mr. Stander focuses his practice on civil RICO litigation and consulting.

How to Ace Your Personal Injury Deposition

Are you afraid of public speaking? Do judges and courtrooms intimidate you unless you’re watching them on television? Great news! Perhaps your personal injury case will be settled, out of court, and you will not need to go through a deposition. This process only happens as a primary step to a case possibly going to trial.

Deposition is defined as oral response to questions. It is common that a personal injury lawyer Naperville IL trusts will also type up interrogatories, a long list of questions you have already supplied them with answers to. Just like actors need to stick with the script on a stage or screen, it is wise for you to review this material before you are interviewed by the opposing attorney. If you do not chose your words carefully, you could contradict yourself. In rare instances, you could be videotaped. Ask your attorney if this is likely. Either way, some find practicing in front of a mirror or having someone videotape some common questions can help you project confidence.

Here are some simple tips to breeze through a Personal Injury Deposition with minimal stress:

1. Remember this is not a conversation! It is a scripted interview where every word will be recorded by a court reporter. Never give them an essay, simply a short sentence that only covers specifically what was asked.

2. Take some breaths. After a question is asked, two things should occur. You should mentally replay every word of the question. If anything is confusing, ask for them to clarify.

For example, “Can you define what neuropathic pain means?” This is not the time to be guessing what a technical or medical term means. Second, before you speak, play in your mind the full thought before you speak it.

3. If they mention a specific accident, procedure, test or doctor visit ask if you can review documents they are referencing: A. police report B. medical record C. deposition already done on physician or accident witness. A personal injury lawyer will show you some documents that will be relevant in your specific case.

4. Don’t be tempted to “fill in the gaps.” It’s normal to not have exact recall of events that were traumatic or that happened long ago. It is better to say, “I do not recall that doctor visit,” than to keep going if you don’t have good recall of the visit in question. It’s alright to admit if you don’t remember something! If you make a mistake, simply say, “I misspoke, Can we go back to the last question, so I can clarify?”

5. Be alert to patterns in the questions. One tactic is for the opposing counsel to ask you a series of “easy” questions that all require “yes” responses. Then they could throw in a difficult question that you could blurt out “yes” to also, if not paying close attention

6. Just because they ask a “Yes,” or “No,” question you may respond with a short phrase instead of being pressured to respond with only “Yes” or “No.” Say your case involves a leg injury to your right leg from an accident. If you responded, “Not that I recall,” to the question, “Have you ever injured your right leg before?” instead of “No,” then if the other side finds medical records of a long-ago sport accident to that same leg that can be clarified. Once you say, “No,” the other side can try to suggest to the judge or jury you are not telling the truth or your recall is poor.

7. Every hour or so, request a break for water, snacks or the bathroom. Just like a coach carefully times when a team uses a “time-out,” you can plan these to occur when the process is the most stressful or confusing.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian for their insight into personal injury deposition questions.