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Formal Discovery Tools by Mind Map: Formal Discovery Tools
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Formal Discovery Tools

KEY - Click Circle

Click on the circles with lines to access the Notes about the topic. See Doc Sharing for a printable version of the mindmap and notes.

Request for Production

A Request for Production is a written request sent from a party to a party requesting the production of documents or things, or to allow an inspection of land or other things. The production must be made within thirty (30) days of the request. This tool is useful to acquire records, like tax returns or business records. It could also be used to inspect, for example, a car that is the subject of a lawsuit. There is not a limit on the number of items you can request.


Interrogatories are written questions propounded by a party to a party (remember that "party" designates someone who is a part of the case) that must be answered in writing, under oath, within thirty (30) days of receipt. These questions are a very good impeachment tool because the answers can be used at trial if the person testifies differently from the stand than he or she did when answering the Interrogatories. In most states, the number of Interrogatories allowed is limited. It is important to ask important questions and avoid wasting any of the questions on immaterial information.


A subpoena is an order from the court to appear in court to testify about a matter. Any person may be subpoenaed. If a person ignores a subpoena that has been properly served, the person can be picked up by law enforcement officials and brought to the court to testify. Further, the person can be held in contempt of court and incarcerated.

Request for Admissions

A Request for Admissions is a set of statements send from a party to a party to be admitted or denied, in writing and under oath, within thirty (30) days of receipt. These Admissions are useful as an impeachment tool because, if the statements are admitted, they cannot be later retracted in court. While there are remedies for tardiness in responding to the other discovery tools, if the deadline for Admissions is not met, the statements are considered to be admitted under the law. It is important that answers to a Request for Admissions NEVER be late.

Subpoena Duces Tecum

A Subpoena Duces Tecum is a special type of subpoena that can be issued to any person by a party. It asks the witness to not only appear in court to testify, but also to bring records with him or her. The documents can be admitted into court as evidence because the person bringing the documents can testify as to their authenticity. Sometimes, the lawyer only needs the documents and can issue a certification for the witness to sign. The witness sends the documents and the certification to the court clerk, and the documents remain in the court file until it is time for court. So long as the seal has not been broken, the documents can be authenticated for entry into evidence.


Depositions are scheduled by one party to question, in person and under oath, any witness (inlcuding parties), in the presence of a court reporter. The court reporter creates a transcript of the deposition. Every word said in the deposition (even those pesky fillers like "um") is in the transcript. This tool is also useful to impeach the witness at trial if the testimony is different than that given at the deposition. The questions at a deposition can be about anything that MIGHT lead to discoverable information, which means that the questioner can ask just about anything if there is a connection with the case. Depositions allows the questioner to ask more questions than could be asked in Interrogatories.