Compel Further Responses

Attorneys easily spew out the objection “the information you are seeking is not relevant to the subject matter of the litigation” as easily as they say “Good morning.” If you are the propounding party your reaction is probably to be to yell out “It is too relevant!” because it doesn’t even appear that the responding party actually thought it through before spewing out the objection. But what exactly is relevancy? It seems to be a nebulous term that invokes images of catching clouds with your hands or like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography “I know it when I see it”?
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Discovery motions are the banes of most attorneys’ existence and they are often relegated to the newbie in the office to prepare. Young associates as well as other attorneys struggle on what needs to be in the papers and exactly how to convince the court that they should win.

With the courts’ having budgetary problems and staff shortages, it is in your best interests to make it real clear to the court (1) what has happened; (2) what you want the court to do; and (3) why you are entitled to the discovery and sanctions in a succinct fashion.
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When I started this blog I asked fellow attorneys what issues they would like me to address. I received this response from a lawyer in San Francisco:

Key problem – judges that won’t crack down on parties that lodge bogus objections and don’t answer interrogs, and object to discovery demands that are straight forward. Amount of sanctions awarded is usually pitiful.
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Not only are most objections garbage, we tend to recycle our garbage objections from one case to the next. Sometimes, we pick up other attorneys’ garbage objections and contribute to more litter. This is done over and over again without even thinking what it is doing to the environment of the litigation.

Garbage objections fuel the ire of opposing counsel. The “meet and confer” letter that is soon to follow is usually full of hostility and threats. Any amicable relationship you had hoped for with opposing counsel is on the cusp of being destroyed. More important, you are now costing your client more money in attorneys’ fees and possibly in settlement. So before you throw out the trash, look at these common objections and why they will be overruled:
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Imagine this: At the beginning of the case you serve interrogatories asking basic information about your case. Thirty-five (35) days later you receive responses that state for every interrogatory:

“Vague, ambiguous, overbroad, burdensome, oppressive, not likely to lead to admissible evidence and the information is equally accessible to the defendant. Plaintiff further objects on the grounds of attorney client privilege and the work product doctrine. See Nacht & Lewis Architect, Inc. v. Superior Court (1996) 47 CA4th 214.

Does this sound all too familiar? The frustration level is high with attorneys as it will take at a minimum 121 days to get basic information if you have to file a motion to compel further responses. Meanwhile the court is scheduling a trial date and your discovery train hasn’t even left the station.
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