Discovery Materials in Court Proceedings

2012-06-13 12:08:34

In civil as well as criminal court proceedings, discovery serves as a tool whereby all parties to an action can discover, before a trial on the matter’s merits, precisely what evidence will be offered at the trial. The discovery process provides each party to an action the opportunity to examine the evidence that will be used against them as well as to find or discover the evidence to be used in their favor. The rules of procedure place few limits on the kinds of evidence subject to discovery, whereas the rules of evidence place significant limits on the admissibility of discovered evidence at trial. For example, a deposition transcript may be used, in whole or in part, but only pursuant to the applicable rules of evidence governing admissibility and the applicable rules of procedure that set out particular conditions precedent to their use.

Because the facts conceded in a party’s responses to requests for admission are not subject to dispute at trial, these responses are commonly used for document authentication, for impeachment purposes, or as proof of the existence or nonexistence of an element of a claim. Physical examinations can be used to prove the extent of a party’s injuries. Expert witnesses may be called to give their conclusions or opinions regarding information, likely obtained through discovery, provided to them before trial. In court proceedings, discovery is an equalizer, arming all parties to an action access to the same information before it is presented to the trier of fact.


References and Further Reading

  • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. St. Paul, MN: Thompson/ West, 2005.
  • Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. St. Paul, MN: Thompson/West, 2005.
  • Federal Rules of Evidence. St. Paul, MN: Thompson/West, 2005.
  • Friedenthal, Jack H., Mary Kay Kane, and Arthur R. Miller. Civil Procedure, 4th ed. St. Paul, MN: Thompson/ West, 2005.
  • Giannelli, Paul C. Understanding Evidence. New York: Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., 2003.
  • Imwinkelried, Edward J. Evidentiary Foundations, 5th ed. New York: Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., 2002.
  • Park, Roger C., David P. Leonard, and Steven H. Goldberg. Evidence Law: A Student’s Guide to the Law of Evidence as Applied in American Trials. St. Paul, MN: West Group, 1998.

Shreve, Gene R., and Peter Raven–Hansen. Understanding Civil Procedure, 3rd ed. New York: Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., 2002.