In my blog entitled The Civil Litigation Process: Phase One – Filing the Complaint, I discussed the steps taken in the court system related to resolving a lawsuit. I will now shed light on the second phase of the process; the Discovery Phase.
Once the claims and parties are determined, civil litigation typically next moves into a phase of discovery as to the facts relating to the claims, counterclaims, cross-claims, third party claims, and defenses to all of those. In most courts, the parties to civil litigation are typically required to make disclosures as set forth in court rule. The nature and extent of disclosure varies depending if one is in federal court or state court In addition to required disclosures, the court rules allow for discovery which can take many forms, but typically involves: depositions (questioning under oath an individual outside of court); interrogatories (written questions from one party to another about claims or defenses which must be answered under oath); request for production of documents, electronically stored information, and things; and request for admission of the truth of matters to be specified by the requesting party. By court rule, each of these forms of discovery has some limitations.
Depending on the nature of the case, the discovery phase can last months or years. Courts now generally require in most civil litigation that the parties propose and the court enter an order setting a schedule for orderly processing of the discovery and timing of pre-trial motion work. The scheduling order will also typically direct the parties to engage in alternative dispute resolution, mediation to see if a settlement can be worked out.
In my next blog I will discuss Motions of Summary Judgment, Trial Phase, and Amendments of the Judgment in the Civil Litigation Process.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact us at 480.461.5300. log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area.