What is discovery in a civil lawsuit?
Discovery is an important part of the civil litigation process, as it allows both parties to obtain information and evidence that may be relevant to their case. The discovery process is designed to provide each party with the information they need to prepare for trial, and to allow them to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their case.
During the discovery process, parties to a lawsuit may use a variety of tools to obtain information, including written interrogatories, depositions, requests for admissions, and requests for production of documents. The specific discovery tools used will depend on the nature of the case and the issues involved.
One of the most common discovery tools is written interrogatories, which are questions that one party sends to the other party in writing. The responding party must answer the questions in writing, under oath. Interrogatories can be used to obtain a wide range of information, including the names and addresses of witnesses, the facts underlying the claim or defense, and the damages being sought.
Depositions are another important discovery tool. A deposition is a sworn out-of-court statement given by a witness or party to a lawsuit. The deposition is taken by an attorney, who asks questions of the witness or party. The deposition can be used at trial to impeach the testimony of the witness or party, or to refresh the witness’s memory.
Requests for admissions are written requests from one party to the other, asking the other party to admit or deny certain facts or allegations. The responding party must either admit or deny the request, or state that they lack sufficient information to do so. If the responding party fails to timely respond to the request, the requesting party may be able to use that failure as evidence at trial.
Requests for production of documents are requests from one party to the other, asking the other party to produce certain documents or other tangible evidence that may be relevant to the case. The responding party must produce the requested documents, unless they are privileged or otherwise protected from disclosure.
Overall, the discovery process is a critical part of the civil litigation process, as it allows the parties to obtain the information and evidence they need to prepare for trial. By using the various discovery tools available, parties can gain a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their case, and can develop strategies for success at trial.