The biggest burden in bringing motions to compel further responses is the preparation of the separate statement of items in dispute pursuant to CRC, Rule 3.1345. In my blogs and at seminars, I have advised parties to prepare their meet and confer letters in the format of a separate statement. See my blog “EXHIBIT A—The Meet and Confer Letter.” As a Discovery Referee I have required parties to exchange Discovery in Word format. I find electronic forms for Discovery, especially in Word, are helpful for two reasons: (1) the parties can meet and confer using the “Track Changes” function in Word and hopefully agree on the modifications to the propounded written Discovery, and (2) parties can easily prepare the separate statement of items in dispute if a motion needs to be filed. This electronic Discovery process takes out the grunt work of having to retype the interrogatories, requests for admissions and requests for documents, as well as their responses when preparing or responding to the separate statement when only a hard copy was served.Continue Reading In Order to Facilitate the Discovery Process–Serve Your Discovery in Electronic Form
It’s not required that a party amend interrogatory responses to reflect information the party got after responding, but there are situations in which a party may want to do just that.
Here’s why it may be a good idea to amend interrogatory responses:Continue Reading Should You Amend Your Interrogatory Responses?
The purpose of discovery is to take the “game” element out of trial preparation by enabling the parties to obtain evidence necessary to evaluate and resolve their dispute before a trial is necessary. Weil and Brown, Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2018) ¶8:1 citing Greyhound Corp. v. Superior Court (1961) 55 C.2d. 355, 376.
Serving “[a]ppropriate written interrogatories are one of the means to accomplish the general goals of the discovery process designed to facilitate a fair trial.” (Juarez v. Boy Scouts of America, Inc. (2000) 81 CA4th 377, 389)
“Interrogatories expedite the resolution of lawsuits … [by detecting] sham claims and defenses … [and] may be employed to support a motion for summary judgment or a motion to specify those issues which are without substantial controversy.” Deyo v. Kilbourne (1978) 84 CA3d 771, 779
When I was a research attorney for Alameda County Superior Court, my judge drilled into me to always check the proof of service to make sure that it was signed and service on all parties had properly been made. As a Discovery Referee, I still review the proof of service first and I am always amused when the proof of service is signed saying that I was already served. Recently I was reading Aaron Morris’ article “Don’t be that Attorney—Ten Ways to Make Yourself Look Foolish”, a humorous article that many of us lawyers always wanted to write about the outlandish positions attorneys take. I specifically enjoyed his third pet peeve and had to pass it along.
Recently I received a telephone call from an attorney wanting to discuss whether opposing party’s objections to her special interrogatories had any merit. Listening to the list of objections, it was clear that the opposing party had failed to assert the objections in good faith as the objections included a General Objection preamble and every response included the same boilerplate garbage objections. However, one of the objections I hadn’t seen before: “No preface or instruction shall be included with a set of interrogatories. C.C.P. §2030.060(d).” The propounding party had placed the definitions of specific terms in a preamble. Did I think this was ok or not?
There are very few discovery cases that come out each year. Usually they are are significant and involve privileges such as Coito v. Superior Court and Catalina Island Yacht Club v. Superior Court. The newly reported case Mitchell v. Superior Court (2015) 243 CA4th 269 is not one of those cases. However, it does demonstrate a trial court’s error in excluding witnesses at trial, because it did not understand the definition of “INCIDENT” in the Judicial Council Form Interrogatories and what the standard is in issuing evidence sanctions regarding discovery abuse .
Recently I received an e-mail from an attorney who followed my advice regarding General Objections. It went like this:
“I read your article ‘Why you Need to Bring a Motion to Strike General Objections,’ and filed a ‘Motion to Strike Defendants’ Preliminary Statement and Unmeritorious Objections.’ The Preliminary Statement contained many of the issues you pointed out in your article, and each of defendants’ responses to interrogatories and document requests contained the same 28 lines of objections. The court then separated the motions to compel from the motions to strike and refused to rule on the motion to strike stating “There is no such motion.” Is the court correct?”
Unlike Federal Rule Civil Procedure 26(e)(1) – (2), California law does not impose a continuing duty on a party to supplement their interrogatory or document responses. Biles v. Exxon Mobil Corp. (2004) 124 CA 4th 1315. Instead, the California Discovery Act has two statutes, C.C.P. §2030.070 and C.C.P. § 2031.050, that allow the propounding party to ask for updated information “bearing on answers already made” and “later acquired or discovered documents, tangible things, land or other property.”
Personal Injury attorney Miles B. Cooper, a partner at Emison Hullverson LLP, wrote a very insightful article in the March, 2014 issue of Plaintiff Magazine on the joys and pitfalls of deposing treating physicians.
Something came up for opposing counsel at the last minute and he didn’t show. That left us – the court reporter, videographer, and me – sitting in the conference room with the treating doctor deponent, the one who had been too busy, according to his office (disinterested, I suspected) to meet me face to face. “Doctor, while you’re here,” I began . . .
ANSWER: A fictional document. A non-existent objection neither based in statutory authority nor found in case law. A statement by a party during the discovery phase that they will neither be held to the Code of Civil Procedure nor the rules of evidence.
In my years as a discovery referee, I have found that lawyers have gotten into the bad habit of inserting a preamble in their responses to interrogatories, requests for production and requests for admissions. These preambles often state the obvious as to what their rights are as responding parties. However, many times these preambles state general objections to the entirety of the propounded discovery and insert rights that are contrary to the obligations of the Discovery Act, the evidence code and current case law. Even though several interrogatories, requests for documents and request for admissions may be objectionable on the same ground they may not be objected to as a group. See Hogan and Weber, California Civil Discovery (2d. ed 2009) §51
Continue Reading What is a General Objection?