The Sideshow

Surreal exchange during legal deposition recreated by New York Times

'When you say "photocopying machine," what do you mean?'

The Sideshow

Will you laugh? Yes. Will you cry? Yes. Will you, after watching the above video, wish you could sit in on a deposition whenever you wanted to be entertained?

If they were all like this one — absolutely.

This video, produced for the New York Times, recreates an actual word-for-word conversation between a lawyer and a man being deposed for a court case involving the Cuyahoga County Recorder’s Office in Ohio.

The lawyer's initial question involved photocopiers. Does the Cuyahoga County Recorder’s Office have any? A seemingly simple inquiry that took a turn for the surreal after the witness, an IT expert, asked the lawyer to define what he meant by photocopier.

Their exchange is maddening, a mixture of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" and the absurdity of "Catch-22." And it's all verbatim. Somewhere, several years ago, people actually had this conversation as a stenographer took notes and, presumably, did his or her best not to jump out a window.

The actual case that inspired the deposition isn't exactly Grisham-esque. The recorder's office had altered its policy about copying records, according to the New York Times. Digital versions would no longer be offered, so anybody who wanted a copy of a document would have to pay $2 per page.

Data Trace Information Services, a company that requested many documents from the recorder's office and would, as a result, see a steep rise in its expenses, sued.

And it's a good thing it did. Without the litigation, we never would have been able to enjoy this absurd and accurate recreation. As for the case, it never even went to trial; the county went back to offering digital versions of documents.

 Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).

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