Do you ever wonder how information is gathered during the course of a lawsuit? Many civil superior court cases take well over a year to resolve, including reaching a jury. It’s during this long period of time that lawyers conduct what’s known as “discovery.” Discovery is the process by which parties to a lawsuit gather information to continue assessing their claims and strategies, and to eventually use at trial.
The North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure provide the parties with numerous tools for use in the discovery process, including “Interrogatories”, “Requests for Production”, “Depositions”, and “Subpoenas.” A skilled civil attorney will use all of these tools to great effect to assist your case.
Interrogatories are simply questions posed to the other party. They are best used to obtain objective information, such as the identity and contact information of witnesses with relevant information. Requests for Production are often used to obtain all the different documents that might be out there relevant to your case. Yes, emails and text messages count as documents and can be obtained through discovery.
A deposition is where a party makes a witness sit down before a court reporter, and examines the witness under oath. The transcript can later be used as evidence. Depositions are some of the most critical moments during the course of a lawsuit, because so much information can come to light during the examination. A subpoena is a document requesting documents or a deposition, served on a third party--someone from outside the lawsuit. Subpoenas are best used to obtain information from an outside source when the other party to your suit is hiding the ball.
Discovery is not without its limitations. Attorney-client privileged information is usually not subject to production, and the discovery questions have to be calculated to lead to the discovery of relevant information to the dispute. There are numerous other limitations, as well, any one of which might result in an objection to a discovery request, perhaps followed by a motion to compel discovery--a motion for the Court to command a party to provide a response.
The discovery process is complex, but a competent civil litigation lawyer will help you craft the right questions and deposition strategy to yield the information most likely to help you resolve your case. If you’re considering a lawsuit, you should give the litigation attorneys at Asheville Legal a call to determine if you’re likely to benefit by coming in for a consultation.