Document Type



Joseph Parker Prize Paper (J. Whitman, J. Langbein, C. Priest) (best paper on a subject connected with legal history or Roman law)


This paper traces the origins of the oral deposition1 in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Federal Rules”) with an emphasis on the role of the officer in charge of the deposition. In Parts II and III, I document the origins of the deposition, drawing on published sources. In Parts IV and V, I draw upon unpublished sources regarding the 1930s Advisory Committee’s decision not to provide for a judicial officer who would have the authority to rule on the admissibility of evidence during the deposition. That decision was an important, yet overlooked, element in the shaping of modern American civil procedure, including the displacement of civil trial by pretrial discovery.

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