Discovery is the legal process that allows each side of a lawsuit to ask the other side for information that is related to the case. I have always referred to the Discovery process as a mini-trial to help the other sides to obtain evidence regarding to the case. During the discovery period, both parties are required to show the other side evidence they plan to use during trial. The discovery process’ main purpose is to help each side prepare their case based on fair access to the information from all parties, and prevents an unfair surprise in court.
The Discovery process is governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. These rules typically say that parties to a case are entitled to any information that is “relevant” to the case as long as it is not “privileged” information. The information requested in the discovery process also has to be relevant to the case. Generally, it is always best to have an Attorney assist you with the Discovery process because it can be very complex and each party is able to object to Discovery requests.
Getting the information you feel like you need or protecting the private information you do not want to share may depend on how well you can argue the relevance, irrelevance, privilege and non-privileged nature of the information to a judge or the Opposing side. Lacking the knowledge of objections and what information people can be privy to is a difficult one and generally requires the assistance of an Attorney for these complexed matters.
There are several types of Discovery and each part has complex deadlines and response times. On top of the different requests that can be common in Discovery, there are also different levels of Discovery within cases as well. The most common types of Discovery are Requests for Admissions, Disclosures, Interrogatories, Production and Depositions. More in depth Discovery could even include a mental or physical examination but they are not very common and generally require a court order showing that the Judge believes the examination is legally appropriate based on the facts of the case.
So, what are Admissions? Admissions are typically questions asked by a party in a lawsuit that requests the other party to admit or deny the truth of a statement. These statements are under oath and when admitted, that statement is considered to be true for all purposes within that Trial.
More specifically, requests for Admissions allow the party to ask the other side to admit or deny facts that relate to the case. Admissions must be in writing, and each request has to be listed separately in the document. Therefore, Admissions can be a few questions or can be extremely lengthy in the requests. Generally, these requests cannot ask the other side to admit something that is a pure conclusion of law. In order to understand what a pure conclusion of law is, it is always best to consult with an Attorney prior to admitting or denying the questions. If one side is unable to answer or has an objection to answering the questions, they must give an explanation as to why they cannot answer the question.
Requests for Admissions are now seldomly used as a Discovery tool and generally are the least used within the Discovery process. Attorneys or parties rely more on Interrogatories and Production of documents. Admissions assist in identifying key facts and factual opinions in a highly effective manner and assist in securing the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of facts within a proceeding.
Since the Rules of Civil Procedure are complex, confusing and can be very overwhelming, it is always a good idea to have a Litigation Attorney assist you with the process. An Arlington, TX criminal defense lawyer can assist with advising you on how to answer Admissions and protect your interests. It is extremely important to understand the process but more so how your responses could jeopardize your case.
Thanks to Brandy Austin Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and the discovery phase of a case.