Depositions Begin in Case of Leach v. Texas Tech

Mike Leach has been scheduled to answer questions under oath (a deposition) on Friday, March 12, according to Court documents, in the football coach’s lawsuit against Texas Tech. Leach, who currently lives with his family in Key West, Florida, is to give a video deposition beginning Friday at the offices of his Lubbock attorney, Ted Liggett.

Liggett declined to comment on the case Monday, but said Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance will be deposed the day before Leach and that depositions will be taken from Adam James and Craig James on Saturday.

Tech fired Leach on Dec. 30, two days after suspending him amid allegations that he mistreated a player, Adam James, who had a concussion. James, the son of ESPN analyst and former NFL player Craig James, said his coach twice ordered him to stand for hours while confined in a dark place during practice.

Leach has denied he mistreated receiver James and has implied that an $800,000 bonus he was to have received Dec. 31 was the reason he was fired. His lawsuit includes allegations of libel and slander and breach of contract.

Depositions and Discovery

Discovery is a fact-finding process that takes place after a lawsuit has been filed and before the trial of the matter. Discovery allows the parties in the case to prepare for trial and many times cases are settled after the parties and their attorneys see the strength and weaknesses of their case. Discovery is based upon the belief that a free exchange of information is more likely to help uncover the truth regarding the facts in issue.

Discovery pleadings generally consist of the following:

Requests for Production of Documents: These are written requests served on the opposing party’s attorney requesting that documents relevant to the case be produced for inspection and copying.

Requests for Admission: These are requests from one party to another to admit facts that are not in dispute so that the evidence produced at trial will basically include matters that are in dispute.  Honest and complete responses can shorten the trial.

Depositions: These are statements of the parties or potential witnesses taken under oath by a court reporter.  Depositions are usually taken by a private court reporter (i.e., one not employed by a court) in the office of one of the lawyers.  Depositions are taken for several reasons which include:

  • Basic evidence gathering;
  • To have a record of the witness’s testimony so that the witness may be impeached if he/she deviates from that testimony at trial;
  • Gives attorneys an opportunity to ask questions that they may not be allowed to ask at trial (the rules of evidence generally do not apply to depositions); and
  • To have the testimony available as evidence in case the deponent is not available, for any lawful reason at the time of trial (this is especially important for a witness who is near death).

Courts are generally very liberal regarding what information is subject to discovery.  It must be generally relevant in some way although, technically, courts will allow the parties to ask for “anything that is reasonably calculated to lead to discoverable evidence.

During a deposition a witness is placed under oath and swears to tell the truth. The parties involved in the case will be represented by an attorney and that attorney will have an opportunity to question the witness (referred to as a deponent for deposition purposes). Depositions can be either video or audio recorded. After the completion of the deposition the court reporter will create a written transcript of the deposition. The transcript will be made available to all parties.