By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
Justin Bieber, the Canadian tween-idol, is now in the career phase of trying to kill his early Disney-fied image by becoming a bad and dangerous character (see also Miley Cyrus). In a U.S. civil case involving alleged physical assault committed by Bieber's bodyguards, he recently had his deposition taken. Now, there are many great clips on the web with some memorable examples of what not to do in a deposition, but the Bieber clips are truly awful. Some recently hosted by the site TMZ show nearly every species of problem. He feigns ignorance, avoids obvious answers, displays an intense disinterest in what the attorney is trying to ask, projects an arrogant "I'm above this" attitude, and even for a moment seems to threaten the questioning attorney. What unites all of these bad examples is a palpable contempt for the process.
It is the kind of deposition that guarantees that, at some point down the road, there will be a generous settlement offered to those bringing the suit. But the deposition also serves as a useful reminder for witnesses and those who prepare them. Few (hopefully) will show as much contempt as Bieber, but everyone who is an unwilling participant in the legal process needs to guard against the display of contempt during deposition. This post will look at some surprising research about the notion of contempt and share some advice on how to avoid it when testifying.