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What is The Discovery Process in Civil Litigation?

When you are a plaintiff or a defendant in a civil case, you will need to go through the discovery process. You should have a civil litigation attorney representing you during this process to ensure you are able to obtain the information you need to make your case. What is The Discovery Process in Civil Litigation?

Brown & Charbonneau, LLP has extensive experience providing legal representation to clients in a wide variety of civil cases, including common types of business litigation such as employment disputes, breach of contract claims, and shareholder or partnership disputes.

In every case, effectively obtaining information during the discovery process is going to make a huge difference in how effective you are at presenting your case during trial.  Our legal team can help you during the discovery process, so give us a call as soon as you become involved in a lawsuit to get an experienced advocate on your side.

What is the Discovery Process in Civil Litigation?

In a civil case, a plaintiff has a burden of proving a claim against a defendant. The claim has to be proved by a preponderance of the evidence, so the plaintiff has to convince a jury that more likely than not, allegations against the defendant are true and facts are as presented.  A defendant can avoid liability by raising affirmative defenses- which must be proved- or by making it impossible for a plaintiff to meet the burden of proof.

In many situations, however, the evidence needed to make a case is in the hands of the other party. For example, if you are suing a company for a defective product, the company has the design specs for the product. If you are suing a partner for failing to keep accurate books, the partner may have the financial information in his possession.

You need to obtain the essential information that can help you to prove your case, or help you to disprove the case against you. The discovery process is the process in which information is obtained.  During discovery, information is exchanged amongst the parties so that they can each begin to build their case.

California Code of Civil Procedure Section 2017.010 explains that:  “Unless otherwise limited by order of the court in accordance with this title, any party may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter
involved in the pending action.”  Parties in a civil case can also obtain information relevant to the determination of court motions related to the accident, or information that is reasonably calculated to lead to discovering evidence admissible in the civil case.

Parties to litigation can seek the identity and location of people with knowledge of discoverable information, as well as details about the existence and condition of documents, any tangible items, land, property, or electronically stored information.

According to Code Section 2017.020, courts can limit the scope of discovery under certain circumstances, such as when the expense, burden, and intrusiveness is greater than the likelihood the information obtained will lead to admissible evidence.  The party who is affected by the burdensome discovery request can submit a motion to the court asking that the information not be considered discoverable.

How Does the Discovery Process Work?

During discovery, opposing parties should turn over emails, electronic documents, paper documents, and other information that could be relevant to the claims. Parties can submit motions to the court asking for specific information to be turned over, and this is common in situations where plaintiffs believe they have not been given all relevant documents.

In addition to turning over information, the discovery process can also involve interviewing witnesses and finding out what the witnesses know. Witnesses can be sent written questions, called interrogatories, or can be interviewed on the record in person through depositions.

How Can a Civil Litigation Attorney Help With Discovery?

Determining what information is discoverable and reviewing documents can be very complicated. If you are involved in a court case as either a plaintiff or as a defendant, you should have a civil litigation attorney to assist with the discovery process. Your lawyer can make relevant motions to the court, can argue against discovery of certain materials, and can organize and oversee the document review process to ensure relevant information is obtained. A civil litigation attorney can also conduct depositions, prepare you for depositions, and prepare interrogatories.

Brown & Charbonneau, LLP has extensive experience with the civil litigation discovery process. Give us a call today at 714-505-3000 or contact us online  to speak with an Orange County civil litigation attorney who can assist you as you obtain the evidence you need to make your case.