Two Important Things You Should Know About Discovery Questions

Discovery is a formal investigation process that allows all parties in a case to learn more about it. It usually involves asking questions or requesting for documents. The parties at the end of the questions may be the defendant, witness or plaintiff. Here are two important things to know about the questions:

It Involves Several Types of Questions

Discovery questions come in many different forms such as:

  • General questions – these are broad-based and can have many different answers. An example is "What happened on the night of March 11, 2015?"
  • Specific questions – demand specific answers, usually about a single event or thing. A good example is "Is it your position that the defendant was driving without the right headlamp at 9:42 p.m. on March, 11, 2015?"
  • Request for admission – this is a declarative statement that the other party makes and you are expected to admit or deny. You can object to a question if you can't answer it, but you must provide a reason for the objection. An example is "The defendant was driving with a broken headlamp at 9:42 p.m. on March 11, 2015."

The Questions Can Be Oral or Written

Written discovery questions are known as interrogatories, and you will usually have a time limit within which to submit your answers. If the questions are oral, then they are known as depositions.

If you are the person answering the questions, then you are known as the deponent. Apart from the deponent, other people usually present at a deposition include lawyers for all parties involved in the case, as well as a person to administer the oaths. A court reporter or stenographer may also be present to record what is discussed, but most lawyers today use electronic recorders.

There is also a chance that the deposition questions may be sent to you in advance. You read the questions, prepare your answers and submit them (orally) on the day of the deposition. This is known as a deposition by written questions, and you will not be asked anything out of the original list of questions when you meet to submit your answers.

Note that your lawyer will help you to prepare for the discovery process, but he or she will and should not coach you on the answers. It pays to be honest because the lawyer conducting the discovery will certainly get the answer, one way or another. If you lie and you are caught, then your credibility (and case) is damaged, creating more work for your lawyer like one from Geoffrey S. Gulinson & Associates PC. The good news is that it is acceptable to admit it when you don't know something.