Understanding the Discovery Process in Lawsuits

Prior to a trial, both parties examine the case’s details according to civil procedures by acquiring evidence from the other party and anyone else who might have details about the case. They do this using a variety of discovery devices, like interrogative inquiries, provision of documents pertinent to the case, and deposition of witnesses. Attorneys call this process discovery. Discovery can take many months, even years, and take on multiple forms in the course of a lawsuit.

Limitations on Discovery

This process allows the parties to bring in any evidence they believe will help their case, even if only tangentially. Some information, however, remains protected, like attorney-client talks, spousal discussions, doctor-patient conversations, and more. The courts cannot call into evidence discussions by the opposing party in the civil process, for example. Courts can declare other information protected in specific case types or owing to the special status of one party member. This could include the unsealing of juvenile records or specific medical or mental health records. There are also motions in limine which can exclude certain pieces of evidence from trial.

Methods of Discovery

The discovery process can take multiple forms, including requests for admissions, interrogatories, requests for documents, and depositions. Here is a breakdown of each:

Discovery can often be the most important part of a case. If you are involved in a lawsuit or have a question about the discovery process, contact us today.