interog

How to Enforce INTERROGATORIES or NOTICE TO PRODUCE Requests in California

Assuming the discovery request is not objectionable such as: overburdening (they can go a long ways); vague or ambiguous; the private information of third parties or totally unrelated; the party in receipt usually will be obligated to answer  fully UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY without being evasive.

A common wrongful  defense tactic of  responding parties is to raise inappropriate objections, evade the question like a polished politician, or over respond so that the truth is buried like a needle in a haystack. This last tactic is referred to in the courts as a DUMP. In order to enforce the right to discover the prospective evidence, the party offended must satisfy to the court that they tried to work out the failure by meeting with the other side and discussing the failure. Then before filing the motion, many courts require that the enforcing party make a special request of the court to file a motion to compel. This motion to compel must be filed within 45 days of the defective response, or the right to enforce is lost. If its a motion to produce, the offending party can only defend with the statement that after a diligent search has been made the document: never existed, has been lost, destroyed or is located somewhere else and where that might be. The court will rule on the motion and possibly award attorney fees as a sanction against the offending party.

It is hard to predict. Usually the offended party’s counsel considers a motion to compel as a win. The order to compel will usually require compliance by a date certain. If the offending party fails to comply with the order to compel the sanctions will hopefully become stronger and stronger encouraging the offending party to comply. These sanctions can include terminating the case or a portion of it. The court does not have authority to PUNISH just to encourage compliance and rectify the damage caused the offended party. The court has wide discretion. I heard one judge or another say in open court in a Southern California or San Diego court:

 

“They call it discovery. You might get something and you might not.” (Vista California)

” Case dismissed” (Big Bear,California)

” You are precluded from introducing the evidence you failed to produce” (San Diego, California )

 

The courts have wide discretion in this area.

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