Zoom Deposition Coaching Leads to Court Order for Counseling: eDiscovery Trends

In yesterday’s EDRM case law webinar, we discussed a case where one of our favorite judges, Illinois Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole, rejected a party’s request for in-person depositions requiring four 1,800-mile airline trips between Chicago and California to support two in-person depositions a week apart. But remote depositions aren’t without their pitfalls as this story about a lawyer who coached his client in a Zoom deposition shows.

The National Law Journal article (Judge Orders Counseling for Attorney Accused of Feeding Client Answers in Zoom Deposition, written by Avalon Zoppo) reports that Judge Leo T. Sorokin of the District of Massachusetts referred O’Hagan Meyer Managing Partner Jeffrey Rosin to a Massachusetts lawyers assistance non-profit, Lawyers for Concerned Lawyers, for him to learn how to better manage his emotions and judgement in adversarial situations.

“The court finds no other or further sanction appropriate in the circumstances, and no further proceedings or sanctions are warranted,” Sorokin wrote.

Rosin made headlines last year for allegedly coaching his client “over 50 times” during a Zoom deposition in an employment dispute pending before U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani. Talwani, in an August 2021 order, removed Rosin from the case and referred him to Sorokin for potential attorney discipline.

Rosin, who wore a mask and sat in the same conference room as his client during the Zoom deposition, said his behavior was “the product of frustration with opposing counsel’s questioning,” but did not deny the allegations, according to the order.

Sorokin, in his decision Wednesday, wrote that Rosin violated two rules under the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, including one that states attorneys cannot behave in a way that “adversely reflects on his or her fitness to practice law.”

“The conduct at issue here plainly ran afoul of these rules,” Sorokin wrote.

But he said the deposition in question “presented difficult and unusual circumstances” and that Rosin has already suffered several consequences. He withdrew from the underlying case, paid the fees of the opposing counsel for the sanctions motion and he and his firm forgave the $65,000 amount for representing his clients.

“Most significantly, he has been impacted professionally and personally by the public nature of the reprimand, the initiation of this public misconduct proceeding, and the media attention garnered by these events,” Sorokin wrote. “Attorney Rosin has also accepted responsibility for his misconduct, something becoming increasingly less common.”

Witness coaching is one of the most common concerns I’ve heard from people about conducting Zoom depositions, so this story may feed into those concerns.

So, what do you think?  Are you concerned about witness coaching in Zoom depositions? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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