This is the second segment concerning what happens in a lawsuit. The first segment dealt with the considerations before filing the suit and this segment will deal with the pre-trial portion involving the discovery phase. After, the answer of defendant is filed and it is determined where the suit will actually be tried, either in state court or federal and what county, if in the state court, or what federal district, if in federal court; the discovery phase of the suit is started. Discovery refers to various kinds of legal procedures designed to elicit information from the other side in a suit. Generally, the first type of discovery procedure is written questions called interrogatories. These questions are sent to the other side and ask about witnesses with relevant knowledge and documents. Also, factual and legal contentions are explored to find out the position of the opposition as to the facts and the law. Another type of discovery document that is normally sent in conjunction with the interrogatories is called requests for production. These questions seek relevant documents which the other side possesses. Many times, your whole case is made based on “smoking gun” documents that the other side is forced to reveal and produce. The most frequent type of important documents are emails and memos, which the other side writes to usually cover themselves in their organization. Also, companies usually like to start “writing up” an employee in order to justify the dismissal using legitimate reasons, when the real reason is trying to be hidden. After the gathering of information through documents, the next phase is oral depositions. An oral deposition is where a lawyer will question another individual under oath about their knowledge of the case. This question/answer session will be recorded by a court reporter and sometimes a video recording. All of this can eventually be used in the trial or motion for summary judgment as evidence or impeachment material. At the deposition, the lawyer for the other side is also present to make objections and guard his client’s interest. Thousands of dollars can be spent in the deposition phase because each one will cost $500 to $1,500 in fees to the reporter to type it up and for video. (to be continued).
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