Filing a lawsuit or going through a divorce proceedings that ultimately go to court. Discovery allows you to obtain information you otherwise would not be able to compel on your own. Special forms and fact-finding tools apply a degree of legal pressure on the opposing party to reveal whatever they may be hiding—whether its income, assets, information pertaining to the event that prompted the lawsuit, and so on.
There are pieces of information you may and may not request in discovery. For example, any witness testimony, anything said by a person that happened before or after the event, the upkeep and operations of a business involved in the lawsuit, a spouse’s income and assets, and relevant background experiences of a witness are all acceptable pieces of information to request for in discovery.
On the other hand, confidential conversations between a lawyer will understand the legal scope better—and that is okay.
your attorneys gather all the relevant information they need, they’ll start building your case. If you do not have a strong understanding of the law, this is definitely where having a lawyer will fortify your story.
You are at the center of a legal team; it is your case, story, and your facts. Thus, there is a chance you will be involved in parts of discovery, especially regarding the process’s primary tools.
Understanding the Tools of Discovery: From Depositions to Interrogatories
At the core of discovery are the tools used to obtain information—processes we’ve hinted at throughout this blog.
The most commonly used oral type of discovery is deposition, a term you may have heard before in law-themed movies or TV shows. Depositions are under-oath statements that happen ahead of court proceedings but may be used in the future for further fact-finding or on the witness stand. Both sides have the right to depose witnesses and may be present at each other’s depositions. These may also come to your aid in the event a witness cannot appear in court at the desired date; with their deposition in-hand, you have their oral testimony.
On the other hand, the most popular written type of discovery are interrogatories, or a series of written questions your lawyer sends to another party for them to answer. These aren’t just questions to take lightly; they are sworn, under oath statements that may be used in court alongside depositions, witness statements, and other forms of evidence. If served interrogatories, you will have 30 Days from the date propounded or served to answer them.
In any case, both parties in a civil or family case have a duty to supplement any responses with information or documents that add to those answers in the future. If you make a statement without sufficient information on-hand, you must correct or supplement it in the future. This must be done before the discovery’s deadline.
There are forms your lawyer may file and send to the opposing party in case they need to procure further evidence. Requests for production, admissions, or mental or physical examinations are all at your lawyer’s disposal and may be used in the course of discovery. Keep your eyes out for any of these served your way too.
If you need assistance with the discovery process, contact our offices for a free initial consultation. Our lawyers know how to navigate the process and strive to leave you feeling confident ahead of your day in court.