Monday, 6 June 2016

Discovery in Civil Litigation

Discovery is a process used in a court case. It is very important because, without it, you may not be able to develop the admissible evidence you need to prove your case. It is also important because you can use the discovery process find out about the other side’s case.

The opportunity to do discovery lasts from (usually) soon after the lawsuit is filed until about a month or so before trial. There are many qualifications regarding dates here because there are exceptions, special circumstances and different procedures are subject to different time frames.

In California civil procedure there are a variety of tools that can be used for getting information through discovery. These include writ questions (interrogatories), requests for documents for other things including inspection of premises, requests that specify matters admitted (requests for admissions), and questioning witnesses under oath (depositions). Documents and/or testimony can be obtained from third parties through subpoenas. Some cases require expert testimony. In the closing days of the case parties can demand information regarding experts to be used by the other side, and those experts can be questioned.

Discovery is a two-way street. Just as you can demand information from the other side, looking for a smoking gun to your case, the other side has the right to demand information from you.

Since the discovery phase the case lasts for most of the life the case prior to trial, discovery can become expensive and time-consuming. However, it is very important because it can make or break your case. Also information developed through discovery can help resolve the case without resort to the time and expense of going to trial. Or if the case does not resolve you will have the formation you need to prove your case, and you will know what to expect from the other side.

Forewarned is forearmed.

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