What is Discovery? (The Discovery Process)
A deposition is where one party asks to take the sworn oral-testimony of another party or witness. The testimony is given under-oath and is transcribed by a court reporter. It is similar to testifying at trial, however, depositions are done in an office instead of a court room. Depositions are extremely important and require a lot from the client, so I will be doing an entire series devoted to depositions to help clients understand and prepare for them.
Written discovery is also extremely important and can be conducted by several different methods including: Form Interrogatories, Special Interrogatories, Requests for Admission, and Requests for Production. Written discovery can only be conducted between the parties to a case, it cannot be sent to any other witnesses or persons. If a party wishes to use written discovery to obtain information from another party, they must “serve” the written discovery on the party. “Serve” simply means send.
Form Interrogatories and Special Interrogatories are written questions asked to another party in the case. Form Interrogatories are questions that have already been drafted by the California judicial committee. If a party wishes to ask another party Form Interrogatories all they have to do is check off boxes on the judicial committee form and send it to the other party. Then the other party must answer those questions in writing. Special interrogatories on the other hand are specific to an individual case and are specially crafted questions that are asked to the other party. Special interrogators can ask any question that is relevant to the case. For instance, “were you using your blinker at the time of the accident?”
Requests for Admission are statements sent to another party asking that other party to either admit or deny the truth of the statements. The responding party must then respond that they either admit or deny the specific statements that they were asked. For instance, a Request for Admission could state “admit that you were not using your blinker at the time of the accident.”
Requests for Production can be used to see, copy, or inspect any document or tangible thing. Typically Requests for Production are used to get documents that are relevant to the case such as medical records, police reports, employment records, emails, or photographs. Requests for Production can also include requests for videos or a request to inspect property.
If you are represented by a law firm such as Sasooness Law Group your attorney will draft the responses to any written discovery which has been served on you. The attorney will draft the responses based on the facts that the attorney knows and the evidence that they have. The attorney will also need to speak to you and go over the questions to ask you for further information so that they can fully answer the written discovery.
After the attorney has drafted the responses to the written discovery, they’ll send the drafts to you to review. If you see anything that’s wrong or missing, you should tell your attorney right away so that they can make the changes. Once the responses are correct you’ll be asked to sign a verification page which says that you verify all the information is true and correct and sign under penalty of perjury. Because written discovery is so important to every case it’s essential that you assist your attorney in any questions they may have and that you completely review any written discovery that’s been drafted by the attorney to make sure that it is all correct and not missing any information.
Keep in mind, that some questions asked through written discovery are not proper and can be objected to, similar to what is done in court. The rules of evidence apply to written discovery, so written discovery cannot be irrelevant or ask for privileged attorney-client information.
If you have any further questions about the discovery process, please reach out to us at Sasooness law group so we can help you.
Written by: Michael Royer, Founder & Principal Attorney, Royer Law Group, APC. Personal Injury & Employment attorneys.