In a lawsuit, both parties prepare information to be used during the trial to sway the judge and jury to back their argument. Oftentimes, one side has specific knowledge to which the other is not aware. They cannot just throw this information around mid-trial, or the entire legal system could end up looking like a zany sideshow. This is the law after all...justice, order, the glue that holds our society together. To keep things professional, honest, and fair, the trial goes through a process called "discovery," where the goals are to uncover the truth, clarify the evidence for trial, and to set the stage for a settlement.
The discovery process is governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, which specifies the form and process of civil lawsuits. Discovery occurs before the trail, and allows each party to show the other side the evidence they plan to use in court and to ask any questions they might have. This encourages parties to settle their disputes before the trial, help each side prepare their case based on a fair access to information, and prevent any unforeseen surprises in court.
The rules of the discovery process allow the parties access to information relevant to the subject matter relating to the pending action. The parties must divulge this information as long as it is not "privileged" information. Privileged information is not subject to discovery and cannot be inquired about in testimony. Such information includes privilege against self-incrimination, spousal communications privilege, and attorney-client privilege. The information gathered during discovery can be protected by arguing the relevant and privileged nature to the judge.
In this 5-part series, we will dive deep into the different components of discovery in Texas state court. Stay tuned for posts on interrogatories, request for production, request for disclosure, request for admission, and depositions. We hope this series helps expand your knowledge of the process of law and of course if you believe you are involved in a situation that requires legal action, please call Reich and Binstock today.