In almost every case, the parties will go through the “discovery process.” This occurs during the pre-trial (or first phase) of the lawsuit. Typically, the two main written discovery tools are Interrogatories and Request to Produce. Interrogatories are open ended questions asked in order to try and find out more information about a case. Request to Produce asks for relevant tangible evidence (oftentimes documents like medical records or a police report) that the opposing party is requesting.
After the written, document based, discovery is completed, the parties will move on to oral depositions. A deposition is the taking of a witness’s oral statement under oath. The live testimony is usually taken at an attorney’s office and in front of a court reporter who is writing down all that is being said.
What information is discoverable is construed broadly and parties are allowed to ask for any information that is relevant to the subject matter of the litigation. Throughout this discovery process, the parties are allowed to ask a wide range of questions, from your living arrangements, employment and, most importantly, knowledge of the matter at hand. The purpose is to gain information and ultimately evidence to use at a trial. But equally as important, it allows attorneys to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the case.