Request for Production of Documents

Requests for Production of Documents are a type of Discovery Request that is typically sent together with Interrogatories. The request is for the other party to provide documents related to the case to the requesting party. In a divorce or support case, documents that are commonly requested include those showing proof of income, such as paystubs, tax returns, W-2s, and bank statements. In cases involving child custody or visitation, the documents relate to what type of parent the opposing party is. These can include criminal and arrest records, and medical records.

This is a very useful portion of discovery because it does not require having to take the word of the opposing party. There is no limit to how many documents can be requested by either party.

Not every single Request for Production of Documents is appropriate and requires the party to fork over the document. Just as an attorney can object to questions asked in court, an attorney can note their objections to particular document requests as well. For example, if the document is equally available to both parties, then there is no reason why one party should have to do the work to provide it to the other party.

 

Interrogatories

virginia interrogatories

Interrogatories are one of the tools available in Discovery. Interrogatories are written questions that require written responses. The answers provided are treated as though the answering party was testifying under oath inside the courtroom. This means that responses are able to be used as evidence by the other party at trial.

Most attorneys have standard interrogatories for particular types of cases, but the questions can be anything as long as they are relevant and designed to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. In a divorce case for example, the interrogatories can cover many topics. It’s common to ask about financial matters such as bank accounts, assets and debts. If there are children, then there likely will be interrogatories about child custody matters such as specific incidents, the party’s involvement with the child and the party’s mental and physical health. In any type of case, interrogatories can also ask about witnesses that know information relevant to the case.

Not every single interrogatory question is appropriate and requires an answer. Just as an attorney can object to questions asked in court, an attorney can note their objections to particular interrogatory questions.

Each side can only ask 30 interrogatories. If there is more information that either side would like to ask about, they must obtain permission to do so from the court and explain why additional interrogatories are necessary.

The Discovery Process

discovery 1Discovery is a process by which the parties seek information from each other that is relevant to the case. This is a very broad standard, which means that a lot of personal information can be requested in the process, including bank statements, tax returns, and details related to someone’s affair. The point is for each side to have an idea of what the other side may present in a trial in order for each side to best prepare their case. Discovery helps to prevent one side from blindsiding the other during a trial with evidence or a witness that they have not had time to prepare an answer to.

Types of Discovery

There are various types of Discovery, some of which include interrogatories, request for production of documents, admissions, depositions, and subpoenas. We will explore each one in future blog posts.

How long does Discovery take?

Different discovery tools have set timeframes. For example, per Virginia Statute, a party has 21 days to respond to Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents beginning on the date they receive them from the opposing side. If the party does not respond within 21 days, then the requesting party must make one more effort to resolve the issue, which usually means sending a letter saying the responses are overdue and providing one last deadline. If the interrogatories are still ignored, then there are steps that the requesting party can take through the court to get the responses. Eventually, if someone does not cooperate, they can suffer various consequences such as having to pay sanctions, attorney’s fees, and even being barred by the court from presenting any evidence that the discovery asked about!

The process of Discovery can be very lengthy, which means it can significantly add to the cost of a case. However, often the process increases the chances that the case will settle outside of court. It provides each side a glimpse into the other’s case and essentially forces each party to “show their hand.” It’s an extremely important part of the case, even though it certainly isn’t much fun for either side. It is rarely advised to go forward with a trial without first going through discovery.