What is “Discovery” in a Lawsuit & What Devices Can Arizona Attorneys Deploy?
Discovery in Your Civil Lawsuit
Discovery devices – what are they and how are they used?
“Discovery” is a term of art used in the law. It means “to find out” what the plaintiff’s case or the defense case is all about. “Discovery” in Arizona is open and liberal. Since “Disclosure Statements” became the rule in 1995, each party now has an absolute duty to “disclose” to the other party every detail, good or bad about the case or the defense of the case.
Arizona was a pioneer in this discovery revolution in the mid 90’s. Now it is common throughout the United States. Even though parties are required to disclose everything, good or bad, it still helps to send out formal discovery requests to make sure nothing is left to chance. There are no more “last minute” pieces of evidence or “surprise witnesses.” If not properly disclosed timely, it does not get used at trial.
One discovery device is the oral deposition (questioning) under oath. Getting a party or witness in a room under oath with a court reporter taking down every word being spoken can be a stressful experience. People do tell the truth under oath. Occasionally someone will be caught in a lie. That is usually devastating for the case and the witness.
Another device is the “Request For Admission.” Requests to admit facts and circumstances have to be answered under oath within 30 days. If not admitted or denied within 30 days, they are deemed admitted. If wrongfully denied, and a party bears expense to prove something that should have been admitted, penalties including attorney fees and expert witness fees can be imposed against the offender.
Interrogatories or written questions are another device. The number of questions that can be sent is limited by the tier chosen at the beginning of the case filing. (See our tiering article from October 2018 explaining the 3 tiers cases get assigned to.)
Requests to Produce are another tool. Items requested include photographs, videos, medical records, receipts, Radiology imaging and witness statements. All of these things are supposed to be disclosed voluntarily, but often they are not. Carefully crafted Requests for Production often reveal information vital to resolution of the case.
Many of our clients feel offended by having to respond to many of the discovery requests we are asked to answer by the defense. Realize this: The other party has to answer the same questions and comply with the same disclosure rules. If something is objectionable, we will object, and the Judge assigned to the case will decide if the objectionable question has to be answered or not.
The Rockafellow Law Firm takes discovery seriously. We pride ourselves on full and complete disclosure and full and complete answers to every reasonable discovery request.