“A Deposition is not a Take Home Examination”: Fixing Federal Rule 30(E) and Policing the Errata Sheet

Ruehlmann, Gregory A., Jr. | March 1, 2012

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(e) allows a deponent thirty days after a deposition in which to make “changes in form or substance.” Courts are split in their interpretation of just how broad a range of alterations the Rule envisions and permits. Some take an expansive reading, presuming that deponents can make whatever changes they see fit, however radical or contradictory the amendments may seem. Others are stricter, permitting changes only when a typographical error affected the form or substance of the transcribed answer. The question of how permissively to treat a deponent’s errata sheet is a vitally important one to the discovery process, with drastic consequences for individual litigants. This Comment is the first to comprehensively lay out the case in favor of strict requirements for deposition changes under Rule 30. It contends that the history of the Rule, the goals of swift and fair justice, and parallel developments in the discovery process militate against an expansive reading of Rule 30(e). Further, it proposes amendments to the Rule’s text that will cure confusion and etch new procedural parameters to promote fairness in federal litigation.