The word DISCOVER comes from COVER, meaning to hide or conceal, and DIS-, meaning the opposite of.  Thus, to DISCOVER is learn or find out about.  DISCOVERY, in the law, means the process, before trial, of finding out what information an opposing party has about the case.

If you are the defendant in a lawsuit, it is likely that you will receive some DISCOVERY from the plaintiff.  The three most common types of discovery are:

1. INTERROGATORIES — written questions that you must respond to in writing.

2. REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS – a request that you provide copies of various types of documents.

3. REQUESTS FOR ADMISSION – requests that you admit or deny various statements.

It is likely that you will receive one envelope from the plaintiff’s attorney that includes each of these. 

You must respond to these within a certain period of time – usually about 30 days – and you must state, under penalty of perjury, that your responses are true and correct to the best of your knowledge. 

The next most common type of discovery is:

4. DEPOSITION, which is giving verbal testimony under oath. 

This testimony is the same as would be given in court, except that it is not in a courthouse or before a judge, but is before a court reporter, who makes a transcript of what is said.  If you are the DEPONENT (the testifying party) you will be questioned by the other party’s attorney.  You also have the right to DEPOSE (take the testimony of) witnesses for the opposing party.

For more information about handling discovery, and other aspects of lawsuit, order our book, LAWSUIT SURVIVAL 101.