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.


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Recently I was contacted to help on a party’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Form Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, and Requests for Admissions. In viewing opposing counsel’s responses to the discovery, I gazed upon the General Response and Objections preamble in absolute astonishment.  It read as follows:


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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
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Just wondering, but what does the phrase “acted with substantial justification” mean in the sanctions statute for motion to compel depo testimony, CCP 2025.480 (pdf)?

Does it mean the conduct that led the moving party to make the motion has to be substantially justified? Or does it mean the decision to make or oppose the motion to compel has to be substantially justified?
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Nine months after the Special Interrogatories were propounded, the Discovery Referee, found that the plaintiffs had “deliberately misconstrued the question” as to economic damages and determined that “the objections and each of them to be unreasonable, evasive, lacking in legal merit and without justification”. Clement at 1284 The Referee recommended that the motion to compel further responses be granted and that plaintiffs were to reimburse defendant $4,950.00 for legal fees, $40 for filing the motions to compel and $1,642.50 for defendants portion of the Discovery Referee’s fees for a total sanction of $6,632.50. The trial court agreed with the recommendation.
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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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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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The California Supreme Court will uphold Coito v. Superior Court (2010)182 Cal. App. 4th 758(pdf). First of all, the basic purpose of the discovery is to take the “game element” out of trial preparation. See Weil and Brown Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2009) ¶8:1 citing Greyhound Corp. v. Superior Court (1961) 56C2d 355, 376; Emerson Elec. Co. v. Superior Court(1997) 16 C4th 1101, 1107. Second, knowing whether or not there are witness statements is not protected under a document production as you would have to disclose the information in a privilege log, so why should it be different for interrogatories. Third, California has a work product statute–C.C.P. §2018.010 et seq.– which codifies California law which makes witnesses statements qualified work product. And, finally, C.C.P §2018.060 allows allows any party to request an in camera review of the documents, which the defendants in Coito v. Superior Court (2010)182 Cal. App. 4th 758(pdf). did not request. Do you agree?
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