Circuit Court Discovery - Answers and Objections
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You must provide the opposing party with yours answers within the later of:
- 30 days after service of the request OR
- 15 days after the date on which the party's initial pleading or motion is required.
There can be serious consequences if you fail to respond to discovery requests, including court sanctions. If you fail to answer Requests for Admission within the appropriate period, the requests are deemed admitted, which may have a harmful effect on your case. Learn more about requests for admission. Note that depositions are handled a bit differently. Learn more about depositions.
If you need more time, ask the opposing party/attorney for an extension as soon as possible. If the other party agrees to the extension, file a consent motion to modify the scheduling order, including a proposed order with the new due date, with the Court.
- A motion is a request asking the court to give an order that the court or another party must do something.
- A consent motion means that the other party consents to the request in the motion.
- A proposed order may be attached to the motion and contains what you are asking the Court to grant. The Court may or may not approve your proposed order. The Court can also modify your proposed order.
- A court-approved, fill-in-the-blank form is not available for a consent motion or the proposed order. It may be difficult to find a sample with the exact language you are seeking. Contact your local public law library for assistance in locating samples and templates for use in drafting your own document.
Read the Rule: Md. Rule 2-401
The most important thing to remember when answering discovery is to tell the truth. If you do not, you risk sanctions from the court, including the possibility of costs (i.e., a fine) or dismissal of your case.
When answering discovery, review the discovery material carefully for any objectionable requests. Under the Maryland Rules, a party has the right to obtain discovery on any non-privileged matter that is relevant to the subject matter of the action.
Do your best to answer each question. If you really feel that a request is objectionable, you can object for one or more of the following reasons:
- Overly Vague and/or Broad. This objection is reserved for discovery requests that are very difficult to comprehend, leave material (meaning important and relevant) terms undefined, or request information that is not limited to the timeframe of the relevant events.
- Unduly Burdensome. This objection is reserved for those discovery requests that seek information and/or documents that would be very time-consuming and/or cost prohibitive to locate or produce. If a request is truly cost prohibitive, consider seeking a protective order under Md. Rule 2-403.
- Irrelevant/Not Reasonably Calculated to Lead to the Discovery of Admissible Evidence. This objection is reserved for those discovery requests that are completely unrelated to the subject matter of the litigation. If the information sought is in any way related to the issues presented by the case, do your best to answer the request.
- Work Product Doctrine. This objection covers material that was prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial. For example, this can include your notes that document your analysis or valuation of the case or an outline of your cross-examination of the opposing party. Use this objection sparingly. This does not apply to any documents and/or information shared with an expert witness whom you intend to have testify at trial. Also, be aware that the party seeking the information can obtain discovery of work product materials if they can show a substantial need for the information and that the materials cannot be obtained undue hardship.
NOTE: When answering interrogatories, if you object to one part of an interrogatory, you cannot refuse to answer the entire interrogatory if the rest of the interrogatory is not objectionable.
You will have to answer the interrogatory or request once the opposing party clarifies or amends the objectionable part of the request. Keep in mind that the opposing party can file a motion to compel, asking the Court to require you to answer requests to which you have objected. If the court does not agree with your objection, the court can order you to respond.
When you are ready to serve the opposing party with discovery requests or discovery responses, you will include a document called “Notice of Service of Discovery Material.” The Notice states the type of discovery material served, the date and manner of service, and the party or person served.
- Keep the original of the discovery request and send a copy to your opponent.
- If you are producing documents in response to requests by your opponent, keep the original documents and send your opponent a copy.
- Keep all originals stored in a safe location until litigation is over.
- If there are multiple parties involved, send copies of the discovery materials and Notice of Service of Discovery Materials to every party.
Unlike the pleadings and motions, discovery materials are not filed with the Court. For example, when you send requests for production of documents or interrogatories to the opposing party or you send responses to those requests, you do not file the requests, interrogatories, or the responses with the court. Instead, you will only file the “Notice of Service of Discovery Material” that you sent to the opposing party with the court.
Read the Rule: Md. Rule 2-401(d)(2)