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.
In 2020, Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.210 titled Written responses to interrogatories; Content of response; Format and method of transmission added the following paragraph:
(d) In order to facilitate the discovery process:
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (5), upon request by the responding party, the propounding party shall provide the interrogatories in an electronic format to the responding party within three court days of the request.
(2) Except as provided in paragraph (5), upon request by the propounding party after receipt of the responses to the interrogatories, the responding party shall provide the responses in an electronic format to the propounding party within three court days of the request.
(3) A party may provide the interrogatories or responses to the interrogatories requested pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2) in any format agreed upon by the parties. If the parties are unable to agree on a format, the interrogatories or responses to interrogatories shall be provided in plain text format.
(4) A party may transmit the interrogatories or responses to the interrogatories requested pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2) by any method agreed upon by the parties. If the parties are unable to agree on a method of transmission, the interrogatories or responses to interrogatories shall be transmitted by electronic mail to an email address provided by the requesting party.
(5) If the interrogatories or responses to interrogatories were not created in an electronic format, a party is not required to create the interrogatories or response to interrogatories in an electronic format for the purpose of transmission to the requesting party.
(6) A responding party who has requested and received the interrogatories in an electronic format pursuant to paragraph (1) shall include the text of the interrogatory immediately preceding the response.
There was a similar change regarding Requests for Admissions. See C.C.P. §2033.210(d). Unfortunately, there were no similar changes to C.C.P. §2031.210-240 regarding responses to Request for Production of Documents.
At a time when Covid-19 has thrown hurdles in front of us regarding our ability to litigate a matter, this is a welcome change to the Discovery process.