How to not answer a question

March 22, 2011 | By | 6 Replies More

Here is how lawyers can gum up the communications process. Thank goodness this is an extreme example. The question causing this to-do is essentially “Does your office have photocopying machines?”


Category: Communication, Language

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (6)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Here is a bit of background to this ludicrous refusal to answer a simple question:

    "He says the issue is this: The county recorder charges $28 for two pages (and $4 per page after that) to record and index deeds, mortgages, and so on. It backs up each day's files onto a master CD. The lawyer represents two title companies that need to get those files. For the past decade, that has cost them each $50 per CD, or a little over $1,000 a month. One day, they noticed that the bill had suddenly jumped to over $100,000 a month. This prompted a few questions."

  2. Stephanie says:

    I think, in this case, though, it was the witness who was purposely making it difficult (although I suppose one could sympathize with him).

  3. Dan Klarmann says:

    It did seem to me that the prosecuting attorney was unable to rephrase the question in such a way as to incrementally force the answer. He just kept repeating the original phrasing using "photo copier" instead of the normal vernacular "copier". Nor did he use a simple inclusive description, such as "any device which duplicates documents".

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Off to law school with you, Dan!

      Or better yet, just give this man a law license. It sounds like he's ready to step in and get some productive testimony.

  4. grumpypilgrim says:

    Not answering a question can have many 'benefits' to the person seeing to dodge an issue. Years ago I heard a lecture by an engineering manager from a large electronics manufacturer who gave an intriguing talk on the "benefits of poor communication." Among the many "benefits" were that it helps make faster decisions, it minimizes opposition, and it allows you to later deny or change what you originally said. No doubt for these and other reasons, politicians and trial witnesses use it all the time.

Leave a Reply