Discovery in Litigation

What is Discovery of Evidence?

During a lawsuit, each party has the opportunity to request formal “discovery” from the opposing party. The Discovery process is accomplished in a variety of ways, one is to send the opposing party a formal set of requests. These requests each seek different types of information from the opposing party.  

stack of legal documents

Uniform and non-uniform Interrogatories:

Uniform interrogatories are a series of questions that are listed in the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. Depending on the type of case there is a set of different questions for the opposing party.

Non-uniform interrogatories are questions written by one party to a lawsuit. They send the questions to the opposing party and wait their response.

For example, a non-uniform interrogatory might ask, “Explain in detail why you did not make the payments as agreed”.

Request for Admissions:

“Requests for Admissions” allow one party to present the opposing party with statements that they must either Admit or Deny. They are written in a way so that the responding party must Admit the statement. If the responding party does not respond in the affirmative then they must provide a detailed explanation of why they denied the statement.

For example, a Request for Admissions could state,
“Admit that you entered into a written contract with the Plaintiff”.
“Admit that under the contract you were to pay the Plaintiff $5,000 a month.” “Admit that you did not pay the Plaintiff $5,000 per month”.

A party might deny one of the above statements of admissions by responding. “I deny that I was to pay Plaintiff $5,000 per month because I gave him a parcel of land as payment for the money borrowed.”

The effect of not responding to the Requests for Admissions is quite harsh. Under Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 36(a)(4) “A matter [request] is admitted unless, within 30 days after being served, the party to who the request is directed serves on the requesting party a written answer or objection addressed to the matter and signed by the party or its attorney.”

Why does it matter if the Requests for Admissions are deemed Admitted? Well, the party asking for the Admissions can say to the Judge, “Your honor, we’ve proven our case and you should rule in our favor. The Defendants admitted there was a written agreement to borrow money and they admitted that they did not pay back the money as agreed. [Refer to my example above].

Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 36(b) does allow a party to file a Motion asking the court for permission to withdraw or amend the admission. “Subject to Rule 16, the court may permit withdrawal or amendment if it would promote the presentation of the merits of the action and if the court is not persuaded that it would prejudice the requesting party in maintaining or defending the action on its merits.”

Request for Documents:

We are given the opportunity to request up to 10 different sets of documents from the opposing party. In Arizona, in the Rule 34 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the responding party has 30 days to respond to the request for production of documents.

Lastly, similar to 26.1 initial discovery statements. These discovery requests are not submitted to the Court. In fact, the Judge will never see this information unless specifically and formally introduced as evidence at trial. So don’t worry about impressing the judge, we are simply exchanging all relevant information with the opposing party.

If you need help from an experienced Arizona attorney, then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1608 or message us HERE.

* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the State of Arizona.