In this blog I have asked that lawyers write in if there was a topic they would like me to address.  I have received many requests over the years and the next couple of blogs will be responding to some of these requests.  Here is the first one.

“I noticed a few things regarding privilege logs. 1) litigators are not sending them. 2) my opposing counsel tends to argue that there is no obligation to prepare a privilege log unless it is demanded by the requesting party and I don’t think that’s right – I think it’s an affirmative duty arising when someone withholds documents under an objection – is that right?”

Continue Reading Aren’t I Entitled to a Privilege Log?

legal gavel and law books, on white

 

Can a trial court order a party to disclose potentially privileged information because the party’s privilege log did not provide sufficient information for the court to evaluate whether the privilege applies?  According to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Three in Catalina Island Yacht Club v. The Superior Court of Orange County filed December 4, 2015 the answer is NO!

Continue Reading No Waiver of Privileges for Inadequate Privilege Log

Exit to hell.jpg

In responding to Requests for Production of documents you have three response choices  (1) agree to produce (C.C.P. §2031.220 (pdf)); (2) state that after a diligent search and a reasonable inquiry you have no documents (C.C.P. §2031.230 (pdf)) or (3) object C.C.P. §2031.240 (pdf)Continue Reading The Document from Hell–aka The “Privilege Log”

businessman is carefully reading contract

Here is another great article from Miles B. Cooper.

Subtitle: Inadvertent disclosure of privileged documents during discovery

The lawyer read in disbelief. The memo, on defendant’s letterhead, crucified the defense. It was part of defendant’s production responses (and for reasons that will be talked about later, the fact that it was not electronically stored information is significant). The document had also been floating around for years. The defendant gave it to the police during the initial investigation. The police gave it back to the defense team when the defense asked for a copy of the police file. The defense produced it to the plaintiff. And, because it was responsive to a discovery category, the plaintiff produced it back to the defense. Continue Reading Read it and weep–Inadvertent Disclosure of Privileged Documents

Knights Fighting.jpgOfficial Form Interrogatories–General (Disc-001)  prepared by the Judicial Council were intended to be used to cover basic matters as well as being a foundational discovery device in personal injury and contract cases.  They also contained sub-parts which were not allowed when serving special interrogatories and they were not subject to the “Rule of 35”.  See California Code of Civil Procedure §§2030.030(a)(2) and 2030.060.  Their use was usually the first volley in the discovery battle.

For years the Courts had found that the Form Interrogatories were objection proof as to form with minor exceptions.  These minor exceptions usually involved case specific issues such as  checking the box with the definition of “INCIDENT” versus creating your own definition for “INCIDENT” and cases which involve complex business transactions.   

Continue Reading Are Official Form Interrogatories Objection Proof?

The greatest discovery abuses come from responses to Requests for Production of Documents.  Many responses contain a myriad of garbage objections, fail to contain a privilege log, along with producing documents that are not organized by category. Due to the responding party’s failure to comply with Codes of Civil Procedure § 2031.220, §2031.230, §2031.2400 and §2031.280, a motion to compel further responses and production of documents is the most common motion on the court’s docket. It is also the most time-consuming motion to not only prepare, but for the court to rule on.

On January 1, 2020, Code of Civil Procedure §2023.050 became effective which imposes mandatory sanctions for motions regarding Requests for Production of Documents. This new statute requires the court to impose mandatory sanctions on motions involving requests for production of documents.  This sets up a party’s ability to bring issue, evidence and terminating sanctions as there will be an adjudication of prior discovery abuse.

The new statute reads:

(a) Notwithstanding any other law, and in addition to any other sanctions imposed pursuant to this chapter, a court shall impose a two hundred and fifty dollar ($250) sanction, payable to the requesting party, upon a party, person, or attorney if, upon reviewing a request for a sanction made pursuant to Section 2023.040, the court finds any of the following:

(1) The party, person, or attorney did not respond in good faith to a request for the production of documents made pursuant to Section 2020.010, 2020.410, 2020.510, or 2025.210, or to an inspection demand made pursuant to Section 2031.010.

(2) The party, person, or attorney produced requested documents within seven days before the court was scheduled to hear a motion to compel production of the records pursuant to Section 2025.450, 2025.480, or 2031.320 that is filed by the requesting party as a result of the other party, person, or attorney’s failure to respond in good faith.

(3) The party, person, or attorney failed to confer in person, by telephone, letter, or other means of communication in writing, as defined in Section 250 of the Evidence Code, with the party or attorney requesting the documents in a reasonable and good faith attempt to resolve informally any dispute concerning the request.

(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (3) of subdivision (o) of Section 6068 of the Business and Professions Code, the court may, in its discretion, require an attorney who is sanctioned pursuant to subdivision (a) to report the sanction, in writing, to the State Bar within 30 days of the imposition of the sanction.

(c) The court may excuse the imposition of the sanction required by subdivision (a) if the court makes written findings that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.

(d) Sanctions pursuant to this section shall be imposed only after notice to the party, person, or attorney against whom the sanction is proposed to be imposed and opportunity for that party, person, or attorney to be heard.

(e) For purposes of this section, there is a rebuttable presumption that a natural person acted in good faith if that person was not represented by an attorney in the action at the time the conduct that is sanctionable under subdivision (a) occurred. This presumption may only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence.

 

Recently at an MCLE seminar, a sitting judge forewarned the audience that because of all the new judges from a variety of backgrounds, often they don’t  have the necessary background on law and procedures for their department.  His advice:

come to your hearings with copies of all the important cases and statutes, no matter how basic the concept is.

This sitting judge was subtly saying:  Plan on educating the court!!

Continue Reading Know Your Audience

The meet and confer process has failed.   Now you have to decide whether (1) you need to bring a Motion to Compel Further Documents because the documents are an integral part of the defense and/or prosecution of your case, or (2) wait for trial and make a motion in limine to exclude the documents categorically at trial.  Two of the factors you are going to have to consider are how much time it’s going to take to prepare the motion as well as the cost to your client.

Most attorneys underestimate the time and cost in filing a Motion to Compel Further Responses.

Continue Reading How Much is that Motion in the Window?

Effective January 1, 2019, Code of Civil Procedure Section 2016.080 authorizes the court to conduct an informal discovery conference upon request of a party or on the court’s own motion. The statute reads:

(a) If an informal resolution is not reached by the parties, as described in Section 2016.040, the court may conduct an informal discovery conference upon request by a party or on the court’s own motion for the purpose of discussing discovery matters in dispute between the parties.

Continue Reading If Meet and Confer Fails, Ask for Help

 In the previous blog, Start Preparing Your Motion Because with These Responses You’re Going to Court, I used the following example as a type of response I see as a Discovery Referee:

Responding party hereby incorporates its general objections as if fully stated herein.  Responding party objects to this request to the extent it seeks information protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege and/or work product doctrine, or any other applicable privilege. Responding party objects as it invades their and third parties’ right of privacy. Responding party objects that the request fails to specifically describe each individual item sought or reasonably particularize each category of item sought. Responding party objects that it is unduly burdensome and overbroad.  Responding party objects to this request as it does not seek relevant documents or documents reasonably calculated to the discovery of admissible evidence.  Responding party objects that plaintiff has equal access to these documents.  Responding party objects that the request seeks documents already in plaintiff’s possession custody or control.  Responding party objects to this request as it seeks documents that are not within defendants’ possession, custody, or control.

Boilerplate objections are becoming more and more common in response to each of the document requests.  The above is an example of inappropriate boilerplate objections. In fact, boilerplate general objections are sanctionable in California per Korea Data Systems Co. Ltd. v. Superior Court (1997) 51 Cal.App.4th 1513 and may result in waivers of privilege per Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Ry Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court 408 F.3d 1142, 2005 WL 1175 922 (9th Cir.2005) [trial court affirmed in holding boilerplate objection without identification of documents is not the proper assertion of a privilege.] Continue Reading WHY THESE OBJECTIONS ARE GARBAGE