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Discovery


Gather Information for your Case

Disclaimer: This guide is intended as general information only. Your case may have factors requiring different procedures or forms. The information and instructions are provided for use in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Please keep in mind that each court may have different requirements. If you need further assistance, consult a lawyer.

Discovery is a formal legal process through which parties to a case gather information and evidence from each other. This can be the most important step in a case because it allows the parties to obtain the information and evidence needed to present their arguments; to determine what evidence the other side plans to present at trial; and helps the parties focus their cases on the issues that are truly in dispute, which saves time and money at trial. In some cases, the information and evidence obtained during discovery points out strengths in your case, or weaknesses in the opposing party's case, which can lead to settlement offers.

Discovery procedures take place outside of court. Parties are expected to work with each other to obtain discovery and resolve disputes. Court intervention is only allowed after the parties have attempted to resolve disputes on their own.

GENERAL INFORMATION

On the Web:

California Courts Self-Help Website: Discovery  
www.courts.ca.gov/1093.htm

Formal Discovery: Gathering Evidence for Your Lawsuit 
www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/formal-discovery-gathering-evidence-lawsuit-29764.html

How to Conduct Discovery in a Limited Civil Case 
ceb.com/H2G/ConductDiscovery-LtdCivilCase/cd.htm

Introduction to Discovery 
california-discovery-law.com/introduction_to_discovery.pdf

At the Law Library:

California Civil Courtroom Handbook and Desktop Reference KFC 995 .Z9 T46 Chap. 21 
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Civil Litigation KFC 995 .L87 Chaps. 13-20

Law Office Procedures Manual KFC 77 .L44 Chap. D

Litigation by the Numbers KFC 995 .G67 Chap. 5

PLANNING DISCOVERY
California law places strict limits on the numbers, types, and timing of discovery requests. Because of this, developing a discovery plan is crucial to most litigants, to ensure that they are able to obtain the information they need for trial.

For More Information

At the Law Library

California Civil Litigation and Discovery KFC 995 .G674 Chap. 11

California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial KFC 995 .W4 Chap. 8D 
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Creating Your Discovery Plan KFC 1020 .C53 
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Obtaining Discovery: Initiating and Responding to Discovery Procedures: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 1020 .G67 
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

DISCOVERY METHODS
Litigants have several discovery methods available to them in a civil case. The methods used will depend on what information and documents are needed in the case.

REQUESTS FOR ADMISSIONS
Requests for admission are used to ask another party to admit that certain facts are true, or that certain documents are authentic, so that these facts do not need to be proven or documents authenticated at trial. Requests for admission are generally not used to obtain new information, but instead to simplify a case by eliminating the facts that must be proven at trial. Ideally, requests for admission are used to establish all the facts needed to prove a cause of action or an affirmative defense.

For More Information

On the Web:

Propounding Requests for Admissions
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library.
www.saclaw.org/pages/requests-admissions.aspx

Introduction to Discovery – Part 2: Propounding Requests for Admissions 
Part 2 of this video series from the Sacramento County Public Law Library's Civil Self-Help Center will help you understand what Requests for Admissions are, and how to propound these types of requests.
www.saclaw.org/pages/selfhelp_video.aspx#discovery

Responding to Requests for Admissions
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library.
www.saclaw.org/pages/respond-admissions.aspx 

Introduction to Discovery – Part 3: Responding to Requests for Admissions 
Part 3 of this video series from the Sacramento County Public Law Library's Civil Self-Help Center will help you understand how to respond to Requests for Admission.
www.saclaw.org/pages/selfhelp_video.aspx#discovery

At the Law Library

California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .H64 Chap. 9

California Civil Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .C35 Chap. 9 
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

California Civil Litigation and Discovery KFC 995 .G674 Chap. 15

California Deposition and Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .D44 Chap. 63

California Discovery Citations KFC 1020 .F56Chap. 6 
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Forms of Pleading and Practice KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference)   Chap. 196
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial KFC 995 .W4 Chap. 8G
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .M37 Chap. 12
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

FORM INTERROGATORIES
Interrogatories are useful for obtaining new information. Interrogatories allow litigants to ask who, what, where, when and why questions, which the opposing party must answer in writing and under oath. Form interrogatories are an easy way for parties to ask common questions by simply checking the boxes for the questions they wish to ask.    

For More Information

On the Web

Propounding Form Interrogatories  
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library.
www.saclaw.org/pages/form-interrogatories.aspx

Responding to Interrogatories  
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library. 
www.saclaw.org/pages/responding-interrogatories.aspx

Introduction to Discovery – Part 4: Propounding Form Interrogatories 
Part 4 of this video series from the Sacramento County Public Law Library's Civil Self-Help Center will help you understand what Form Interrogatories are, and how to propound these types of requests.
www.saclaw.org/pages/selfhelp_video.aspx#discovery.

Introduction to Discovery – Part 5: Responding to Form Interrogatories 
Part 5 of this video series from the Sacramento County Public Law Library's Civil Self-Help Center will help you understand how to respond to Form Interrogatories.
www.saclaw.org/pages/selfhelp_video.aspx#discovery

At the Law Library

California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .H64 Chap. 5

California Civil Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .C35 Chap. 7
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

California Civil Litigation and Discovery KFC 995 .G674 Chap. 12

California Deposition and Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .D44 Chap. 60

California Discovery Citations KFC 1020 .F56 Chap. 3
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Forms of Pleading and Practice KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference) Chap. 194
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial KFC 995 .W4 Chap. 8F
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .M37 Chap. 9
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES
Special interrogatories, like form interrogatories, are useful for obtaining new information, and for asking who, what, where, when and why questions. Special interrogatories are used to ask questions that are not included in the form interrogatories. The parties write their own questions, tailored to obtain facts needed to prove their case or disprove a point the other side must establish to win theirs.

For More Information

On the Web

Propounding Special Interrogatories
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library.
www.saclaw.org/pages/special-interrogatories.aspx

Responding to Interrogatories
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library. 
www.saclaw.org/pages/responding-interrogatories.aspx

Introduction to Discovery – Part 6: Propounding Special Interrogatories 
Part 6 of this video series from the Sacramento County Public Law Library's Civil Self-Help Center will help you understand what Special Interrogatories are, and how to propound these types of requests.
www.saclaw.org/pages/selfhelp_video.aspx#discovery

Introduction to Discovery – Part 7: Responding to Special Interrogatories 
Part 7 of this video series from the Sacramento County Public Law Library's Civil Self-Help Center will help you understand how to respond to Special Interrogatories.
www.saclaw.org/pages/selfhelp_video.aspx#discovery

At the Law Library

Bender's Forms of Discovery KF 8900 .A3 B45

California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .H64 Chap. 5

California Civil Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .C35 Chap. 7
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

California Civil Litigation and Discovery KFC 995 .G674 Chap. 12

California Deposition and Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .D44 Chap. 60

California Discovery Citations KFC 1020 .F56 Chap. 3
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Forms of Pleading and Practice KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference) Chap. 194
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial KFC 995 .W4 Chap. 8F
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .M37 Chap. 9
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

Model Interrogatories KF 8900 .C84

REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION OR INSPECTION
These requests may be used to inspect and copy documents or tangible items held by the other party. Requests for inspection can also be used to test, measure, photograph, etc., physical evidence in the other party's possession or control. Generally, a request for production asks the responding party to make available the original documents, but a requesting party may request that photocopies be sent instead, if inspection of the original document is not necessary.

For More Information

On the Web

Propounding Requests for Production or Inspection
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library.
www.saclaw.org/pages/requests-production.aspx

Responding to Requests for Production or Inspection
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library.
www.saclaw.org/pages/respond-production.aspx

Introduction to Discovery – Part 8: Propounding Requests for Production 
Part 8 of this video series from the Sacramento County Public Law Library's Civil Self-Help Center will help you understand what Requests for Production are, and how to propound these types of requests.
www.saclaw.org/pages/selfhelp_video.aspx#discovery

Introduction to Discovery – Part 9: Responding to Requests for Production 
Part 9 of this video series from the Sacramento County Public Law Library's Civil Self-Help Center will help you understand what Requests for Production are, and how to respond to these types of requests.
www.saclaw.org/pages/selfhelp_video.aspx#discovery

At the Law Library

California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .H64 Chap. 6

California Civil Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .C35 Chap. 8
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

California Civil Litigation and Discovery KFC 995 .G674 Chap. 14

California Deposition and Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .D44 Chap. 61

California Discovery Citations KFC 1020 .F56Chap. 5
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Forms of Pleading and Practice KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference) Chap. 195
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial KFC 995 .W4 Chap. 8H
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .M37 Chap. 10
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

DEPOSITIONS
A deposition is the taking of an oral statement of a witness or party under oath. The deposing party (the "asking" person) may ask the deponent (the "responding" person) questions to obtain information, discover what the party knows about a situation or event, and to determine what their testimony would be at trial. Depositions are taken in the presence of a court reporter, and the transcript may be used as evidence if the witness changes his or her story at trial. Depositions tend to be a very expensive method of discovery.

For More Information

On the Web:

How to Prepare for, Take and Use a Deposition 
jamespublishing.com/digital_books/dep.htm

Depositions 
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library.
www.saclaw.org/pages/depositions.aspx

At the Law Library:

About Your Deposition (DVD) KF 8900 .V56 (Self-Help Audio-Video)

California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .H64 Chaps. 2-3

California Civil Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .C35 Chaps. 5-6
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

California Civil Litigation and Discovery KFC 995 .G674 Chap. 13

California Deposition and Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .D44 Chaps. 50-53

California Discovery Citations KFC 1020 .F56 Chap. 4
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Forms of Pleading and Practice KFC 1010 .A65 C3(Ready Reference) Chap. 193
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial KFC 995 .W4 Chap. 8E
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Deposition Checklists and Strategies KF 8900 .S33

The Deposition Guide: A Practical Handbook for Witnesses KF 8900 .J64 (Self-Help)

Deposition Guidebook KF 8900 .K54

Dunne on Depositions in California KFC 1020 .Z9 D86
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Effective Depositions KF 8900 .E35

Handling Depositions: Here's How and When to Do it KFC 1020 .D47 R35
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .M37
Chaps. 6-8
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

Nolo's Deposition Handbook KF 8900 .B44 (Self-Help)
Electronic Access: From any computer (library or home) via the Legal Information Reference Center. Instructions are available on our website at www.saclaw.org /pages/nolo-ebooks.aspx.

Preparing for Your Deposition (DVD) KF 8900 .A76 A27 (Self-Help Audio-Video)

SUBPOENAS
A subpoena is court order issued at the request of a party that requires a witness to testify, either at a deposition or trial. Subpoenas may also be used to require someone who is not a party to the case to produce specified evidence, such as documents or business records. During the discovery process, deposition subpoenas are often used to get testimonial evidence or obtain documents and records prior to trial.

For More Information

On the Web

How to Get Business Records for Litigation
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library. 
www.saclaw.org/pages/business-records-subpoena.aspx

At the Law Library

California Civil Courtroom Handbook and Desktop Reference KFC 995 .Z9 T46
Chap. 21, sections 21:48-21:69
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Civil Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .C35 Chap. 5
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

California Discovery Citations KFC 1020 .F56 Chap. 4
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Forms of Pleading and Practice KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference) Chap. 535
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial KFC 995 .W4 Chap. 8E-6
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Subpoena Handbook KFC 1040 .5 .C35

Handling Subpoenas: Here's How and When to Do It KFC 1040 .5 H36 
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

Litigation by the Numbers KFC 995 .G67 Chap.5

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .M37 Chap. 6
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

DISCLOSURE OF EXPERT WITNESSES
Parties may demand a simultaneous exchange of expert witness information, including the name and address of any expert expected to testify, as well as any reports and other writings made by the expert for this case. This exchange of information allows parties time to prepare to cross-examine witnesses who have specialized knowledge in some scientific or technical field.

For More Information

On the Web

Exchange of Expert Witness Information
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library.
www.saclaw.org/pages/expert-witness-exchange.aspx

At the Law Library

California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .H64 Chap. 10

California Civil Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .C35 Chap. 11 
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

California Civil Litigation and Discovery KFC 995 .G674 Chap. 17

California Deposition and Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .D44 Chap. 64

California Discovery Citations KFC 1020 .F56 Chap. 8
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Expert Witness Guide KFC 1042 .K45 Chap. 10 
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

California Forms of Pleading and Practice KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference) Chap. 198
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial KFC 995 .W4 Chap. 8J
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .M37 
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

PHYSICAL OR MENTAL EXAMINATION 
In cases where a party's physical or mental condition is in controversy, it may be possible to require that party to submit to a physical or mental examination. This is most common in personal injury cases, when the defendant may request a physical examination to verify the plaintiff's claimed injuries. This discovery method is usually very expensive.

For More Information

At the Law Library

California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .H64 Chap. 8

California Discovery Citations KFC 1020 .F56 Chap. 7
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Civil Litigation and Discovery KFC 995 .G674 Chap. 16

California Civil Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .C35 Chap. 10
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

California Deposition and Discovery Practice KFC 1020 .D44 Chap. 62

California Forms of Pleading and Practice KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference) Chap. 197
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

California Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial KFC 995 .W4 Chap. 8I
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Civil Discovery KFC 1020 .M37 Chap. 11
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.

DISCOVERY PROBLEMS
During the discovery process, it is not uncommon to encounter problems. The most common problem is that the opposing side fails to respond to your formal discovery requests. If the opposing side fails to respond to a request for admissions, you may ask the court for an order to have the facts you sought to have the other side admit deemed true. If the opposing side fails to respond to your form or special interrogatories, or a request for production, you may file a motion seeking an order that the opposing party be compelled to respond. Another common problem occurs when the opposing party responds to your requests, but the responses are incomplete. In that situation, you may ask the court for an order compelling the opposing party to provide further responses. The Law Library has guides on the most common of these types of motions. See these guides for background information and step-by-step instructions on each type of motion.

How to Ask to Withdraw Erroneous or Deemed Admissions
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library. 
www.saclaw.org/pages/motion-relief-admissions.aspx

Obtaining an Order that the Opposing Side Respond to Discovery Requests
A Step-by-Step Guide from the Sacramento County Public Law Library. 
www.saclaw.org/pages/motion-to-compel.aspx   

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS GUIDE, OR IF YOU NEED HELP FINDING OR USING THE MATERIALS LISTED, DON'T HESITATE TO ASK A REFERENCE LIBRARIAN.

created 11/13 mpj