What Is FRCP Rule 30? A Reference Guide

  • Will Pfeifer
  • June 21, 2021

Rule 30 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) sets clear rules governing depositions in court. The rule offers clear guidance on how legal and defense teams should act when issuing and responding to statement requests.  

This post provides a brief overview of how depositions work, an explanation of FRCP, and what to expect in rule 30. 

What Is a Deposition?

Before two teams go to court, they engage in a process called legal discovery. This is where the plaintiff and defense teams meet to go over evidence. At this point, they basically set ground rules for what will take place in court. The point of the discovery process is for one side to let the other side know what evidence they have. That way, the other side can have the chance to defend themselves. Simply put, discovery ensures a fair, efficient, and civil trial for both parties.  

There are a few different types of discovery requests that legal teams engage in during the discovery process. For example, there are subpoenas, which are orders for physical or electronic evidence. In some cases, legal teams may also ask for physical inspections. Beyond that, there is a dedicated eDiscovery process for handling electronic information (ESI).  

A deposition is a type of legal discovery request that involves asking for a statement from a victim or witness. Depositions hold victims and witnesses to specific statements and actions during court.  

What Are the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure?

Congress passed the FRCP in 1938. The legislature was eying a series of reforms aimed at unifying the highly fragmented U.S. federal court system.  

The FRCP allowed the Supreme Court to issue general rules of practice and procedure in district courts across the country. There have since been several amendments to the FRCP, but district courts still follow the model today. Many state and local courts across the United States do, too. 

The FRCP is an extensive document, containing 86 rules and 7 supplemental rules for maritime claims and asset-forfeiture actions.  

What Is Rule 30 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure?

Rule 30 of the FRCP governs depositions by oral examination. This includes when and how lawyers should issue depositions and how parties should respond to them.  

Rule 30(a): When a Deposition Can Be Taken

The first part of rule 30 governs when a deposition can be taken. It basically says that a party can depose any person or party via oral questions without leave of court except as provided in rule 30(a).  

Part (2) goes on to say that a deponent’s attendance can be compelled by subpoena, under rule 45. Further, it says that a party must obtain leave of court, and the court needs to grant leave to the extent that is in line with rule 26(b)(1) and (2) if the parties have not stipulated to the deposition and if one of the following conditions is met:  

  • (i) The deposition would require more than 10 depositions being taken under this rule or rule 31 by the plaintiffs, defendants, or third-party defendants. 
  • (ii) Lawyers have already given depositions during the case. 
  • (iii) The party moves to take the deposition before the time specified in rule 26(d), unless the party certifies and proves that the deponent is due to leave the US, making them unavailable for examination in the country after that time. 

The court must also grant leave if the deponent is currently in prison. 

Rule 30(b): Notice of the Deposition and Other Requirements 

Part (b) explains how parties can depose a person by asking them oral questions.  

Section (b)(1) says that any party who wants to depose a person by asking them questions needs to give reasonable written notice to every other party. 

Section (b)(2) explains that if a subpoena duces tecum needs to be served on the deponent, the materials designated for production have to be listed in the attachment. In Latin, duces tecum means “you shall bring with you.” So in this case, the witness would need to produce a document related to the case in court.  

Section (b)(3) covers the method of recording, including methods stated in the notice, as well as additional methods for recording a testimony, guidance for recording by remote means, and the officer’s duties before the deposition, both when conducting the deposition and after the deposition.  

Rule 30(c): Examination and Cross-Examination, Record of the Examination, Objections, and Written Questions 

Section (c)(1) says that the examination and cross-examination of a deponent should move forward as they would at trial under the Federal Rules of Evidence, except rules 103 and 615. 

Sections (c)(2) and (c)(3) cover objections and participation through written questions, respectively.  

Rule 30(d): Duration, Sanction, Motion to Terminate or Limit 

Section (d) sets a deposition limit of no more than one day of seven hours. It also explains that the court must allow extra time if needed to examine the deponent or if there is any delay in the examination.  

In addition, the court may pose an appropriate sanction under section (d)(2) for anyone who impedes, delays, or frustrates the fair examination of the deponent.  

Section (d)(3) goes on to provide grounds for terminating or limiting a deposition. It also includes instructions for resuming while also establishing grounds for awarding expenses.  

Rule 30(e): Review by the Witness and Changes

Section (e)(1) explains that, on request by the deponent or party before the deposition is completed, the deponent must be given 30 days after learning that the transcript or recording is available so that they can review it or file any changes. 

Section (e)(2) says that the officer must note in the certificate whether someone requests a review and attaches any changes during the 30-day period. 

Rule 30(f): Certification and Delivery, Exhibits, Copies of the Transcript or Rerecording, Filing

Section (f) explains that the officer must certify in writing that the witness was duly sworn. The officer must also certify that the deposition accurately records the witness’s testimony during the deposition, along with further guidance on this process.  

Section (f)(2) points out guidance for documents and tangible things. On the other hand, sections (3) and (4) go over orders for copying transcripts and for notifying parties of filing requirements, respectively.  

Rule 30(g): Failure to Attend a Deposition or Serve a Subpoena, and Expenses

Section (e) enables a party to recover fees should a notifying party fail to attend and proceed with a deposition, or if they serve a subpoena and do not attend.  

How Venio Fits In

Legal discovery and eDiscovery both move very quickly. As such, legal teams don’t have much time to produce evidence and respond to requests. Teams that can’t produce evidence in a timely manner and respond to requests risk facing court sanctions and court losses.  

To streamline the process, many companies are turning to cloud-based eDiscovery platforms like Venio Cloud, offering end-to-end eDiscovery management. Venio Cloud enables lightning-fast eDiscovery, including a transcript review feature for reviewing and searching depositions or hearing transcripts. The platform even includes a transcription feature for producing and redacting documents. Additional noteworthy features include AI-driven assisted review, fully managed and secure cloud delivery, and automated operations for increased productivity and consistent outcomes. Simply put, Venio Cloud helps eDiscovery teams move faster. Instead of having to manually collect documents by hand, the technology automates much of the process. 

Venio also offers platform-specific eDiscovery training and certification. This helps eDiscovery professionals get up to speed with the platform in a matter of just a few days. To experience the easiest way to approach eDiscovery, request a free trial of  Venio Cloud. 

This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.