Answering Requests for Admissions is very similar to answering interrogatories–you have an obligation to respond in good faith and you have to be careful about your garbage objections. However, the code makes it clear that the requirements in responding to Requests for Admissions are higher.
Pre-trial discovery is the heart and soul of litigation. It enables the parties to evaluate and prepare their case for mediation, motions for summary judgment or summary adjudication and for trial. The propounding of discovery also leads to discovery disputes and then to discovery motions–all which can threaten to overwhelm the litigation of the case. However, due to the court holidays ordered by the Judicial Council during this pandemic, parties were not able to have their discovery disputes heard by the courts, thus, stalling their cases. Now with the courts reopening, the backlog of motions previously taken off calendar will need to be rescheduled. Meanwhile, new motions are being filed. This unprecedented situation begs the question from attorneys: When will my discovery motion be heard?
I received a comment about one of my blogs saying:
Many young(er) attorneys abuse discovery as a matter of course – as if they have been taught how to be obstructionists at law school. I also think newer attorneys do the scorched earth route to create more billing. One dope sent me objections that were over 100 pages.
I have written many blogs regarding how to handle discovery abuse by opposing counsel. These include filing motions to compel further responses, filing motions for protective orders and how to recover sanctions.
For years I have been blogging about bad discovery habits from Garbage Objections to unauthorized General Objections, and preached that attorneys must play by the rules. As you know if you have read my blogs, I am quite the supporter of the 1986 Discovery Act, and often express my opinions on a party’s responsibility during the discovery process. More importantly, I attempt to educate lawyers about the Discovery Act so they can be well prepared with their arguments when the court makes a wrong turn (yes, it does happen).
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.
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 2009) ¶ 8:1, citing Greyhound Corp v Superior Court (1961) 56 C2d 355, 376]. Unfortunately, now it appears the call of the wild is “Let the games begin” as the dreaded process unfolds.