United States Courts have established guidelines regarding basic legal processes that must be followed in the courtroom. From the time the initial complaint is made, until a trial takes place, there are specific steps lawyers must take to comply with both state and federal laws. When lawyers begin gathering information for their case, this is known as the discovery phase. The information that is obtained by both sides of a suit, the plaintiff and the defendant, can dictate the ultimate result of the case. In terms of time and cost, the discovery portion of a legal challenge consumes a significant portion of time and expenses. For this reason, it is important for lawyers to understand the techniques and strategies to make discovery more effective. The Skilled Advocate Company focuses on helping new lawyers improve their trial skills, including how to make the discovery process more productive. If you are a new lawyer, consider calling our legal team today at 561-293-8510 to learn more about how you can enhance your ability to be a more effective and proficient trial attorney.
What Is Discovery?
A lawsuit is brought forth by a plaintiff against a defendant, typically through a demand letter or other court document. The defendant could potentially agree to the demands and the dispute will have a mutually agreeable resolution sooner than later. However, a defendant can also refuse to accept the allegations against them, and even raise their own counterclaims.
Discovery happens when each side in a lawsuit begins to evaluate their position and request evidence from the opposing counsel. The information that each side has can speak volumes to how strong their case is and what strategy will work the best for litigation. Conversely, the documents received in discovery can expose a weakness that exists for one side thus leading to a settlement or resolution to the case. Accepting a settlement in a civil case or taking a plea deal in a criminal case as explained by the Federal Judiciary, can be ways to avoid having to go to trial. Discovery is one of the most important parts of any trial. Learning how to make the discovery process more effective and efficient is a skill learned by the best trial attorneys.
What Discovery Tools Are Used to Build a Case?
One type of discovery tool is a deposition. Depositions provide an attorney with the ability to question opposing counsel witnesses in person, under oath, in order to obtain additional information. Interrogatories can also be used to gain information from the other side.
Interrogatories are simply questions provided to opposing counsel that their witnesses will need to respond to in a written format, instead of in person. Interrogatories and depositions are critical tools to use in court for discrediting what someone says when they are on the stand. Tactical questions are listed and sent from one side to the other to be answered. Should the testimony that a party gives in court deviate from how they answered these questions, then the quality of their statements and their person can be made to look untrustworthy.
In addition to depositions and interrogatories with relevant parties associated with a case, there are other discovery tools including a request for production of document and requests for admissions. The value of these documents comes when an attorney can use them to fortify their case in trial. However, learning what to ask for, how to ask for it, and how to phrase questions within depositions and interrogatories is a learned skill.
How To Make Discovery More Effective and Efficient
The court may provide leniency to each side during the discovery process to ensure that the most valuable and accurate information can be uncovered. However, there are limits to what the courts will tolerate. The following are ways that an attorney can ensure that discovery will be more effective and efficient.
Respond Appropriately to Requests from Opposing Counsel
Any side that does not respond appropriately to discovery requests or that interferes and manipulates data that was asked for in discovery will often receive reprimands or even punishment by the court. It is possible that a case can even be dismissed based on the level of corruption that was involved with the distribution and/or production of evidence during the discovery process. You should always answer and respond to requests from opposing counsel if they are appropriate. If you are an attorney that has requested documents or depositions, and that feels that opposing counsel is behaving inappropriately with respect to evidence production, consider formally notifying the court.
Respond in a Timely Manner to Requests from Opposing Counsel
The discovery phase can take a considerable amount of time. You should always respond within the time frame allowed to opposing counsel requests. It is important to note that as an attorney, you should be able to recognize if the opposing counsel is purposely abusing the discovery phase by making requests that have no real connection to the case. Engaging in these deceitful behaviors may be motivated to do so as a tactic to overwhelm and frustrate the other side. Skilled lawyers will be able to identify these tactics and respond by refusing to comply with such requests. Ultimately, it will be up to the court to decide if the information at all or in part must be provided.
Continue to Build Your Discovery and Other Trial Skills Today
There is much to consider as a legal professional. When taking on a case the ultimate goal is to provide clients with the highest quality legal counsel to improve the chances for a favorable outcome to result. Becoming fluent and proficient regarding how to handle discovery is just one area that a lawyer should understand and use to their client’s advantage. Making discovery more effective can help a lawyer ensure that they are providing the best possible representation for their client, and that they are ensuring that justice is served. If you would like more information on how to build your discovery and other trial skills, please call The Skilled Advocate Company Today at 561-293-8510.