Oklahoma Discovery Law


Evidence – Discovery – Oklahoma

Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive summary of discovery law in Oklahoma, but does include basic and other information.

Definitions

Discovery: A procedure designed to allow disclosure of information between Plaintiffs and Defendants. Written questions, oral questioning, document production and admissions requests are generally allowed. Discovery was designed to to prevent trial by ambush.

Interrogatories: Written questions from Plaintiff to Defendant, or from Defendant to Plaintiff. The questions are mailed to the Plaintiff, Defendant or the attorney for response in writing. The answers or responses are usually due between 20-30 days.

Deposition: A procedure where verbal questions are asked a Plaintiff or Defendant for immediate response. Depositions are usually recorded by a court reporter, who swears the person to tell the truth before questioning begins.

Production of Documents: The method of obtaining documents from the other party relevant to the case such as all documents a party intends to introduce at trial.

Requests for Admissions: Written questions where you request the other party to admit or deny some relevant fact.

Objections: Objections may be made to all discovery questions if the questions are not relevant, or likely to lead to the discovery of relevant evidence.

Civil Procedure Rules: Virtually all states have adopted a version of civil procedure rules which include rules dealing with discovery.

Oklahoma Rules of Civil Procedure

The Oklahoma Rules of Civil Procedure are contained in the Oklahoma State Statutes, Title 12. The discovery rules are specifically found in Section 12-3226 through Section 12-3237. The discovery rules also apply in divorce actions.

Discovery Methods: Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods: Depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical and mental examinations; and requests for admission. Unless the court orders otherwise under this section, the frequency of use of these methods is not limited.

Section 12-3226(A)

Scope: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in thepending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of theparty seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not a ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Section 12-3226(B)(1)

Experts:
a. Discovery of facts known and opinions held by experts, otherwise discoverable under the provisions of paragraph 1 of this subsection and acquired or developed in anticipation of litigation or for trial, may be obtained only as follows:

(1) A party may, through interrogatories, require any other party to identify each person whom that other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial and give the address at which that expert witness may be located.

(2) After disclosure of the names and addresses of the expert witnesses, the other party expects to call as witnesses, the party,who has requested disclosure, may depose any such expert witnessessubject to scope of this section. Prior to taking the deposition the party must give notice as required in subsections A and C of Section 3230 of this title.

(3) In addition to taking the deposition of an expert witness theparty may, through interrogatories, require the party who expects to call the expert witness to state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, and to state the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion.

b. A party may discover facts known or opinions held by an expert who has been retained or specially employed by another party in anticipation of litigation or preparation for trial and who is not expected to be called as a witness at trial, only upon motion, when the court may order discovery as provided in Section 3235 of this title or upon a showing of exceptional circumstances under which it is impracticable for the party seeking discovery to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by any other means.

c. Unless manifest injustice would result:

(1) The court shall require that the party seeking discovery pay the expert a reasonable fee for time spent in responding to discoveryunder division (2) of subparagraph a of this paragraph and subparagraph b of this paragraph.

(2) The court shall require that the party seeking discovery withrespect to discovery obtained under subparagraph b of this paragraph, pay the other party a fair portion of the fees and expenses reasonably incurred by the latter party in obtaining facts and opinions from the expert. Section 12-3226(B)(3)

Sequence and Timing of Discovery:Unless the court upon motion, for the convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice, orders otherwise, methods of discovery may be used in any sequence. The fact that a party is conducting discovery, whether by deposition or otherwise, shall not operate to delay discovery by any other party. Section 12-3226(D)

Supplementation of Responses: A party who has responded to a request for discovery with a response that was complete when it was made is under no duty to supplement the response to include information thereafter acquired, except as follows:

1. A party is under a duty seasonably to supplement the response with respect to any question directly addressed to: a. the identity and location of persons having knowledge of discoverable matters, and b. the identity of each person expected to be called as an expert witness at trial, the subject matter on which he is expected to testify, and the substance of his testimony.

2. A party is under a duty seasonably to amend a prior response to an interrogatory, request for production, or request for admission if the party obtains information upon the basis of which: a. (i) the party knows that the response was incorrect in some material respect when made, or (ii) the party knows that the response, which was correct when made, is no longer true in some material respect; and b. the additional or corrective information has not otherwise beenmade known to the other parties during the discovery process or inwriting. 3. A duty to supplement responses may be imposed by order of thecourt, agreement of the parties, or at any time prior to trial through new requests for supplementation of prior responses. Section 12-3226(E)

Discovery Conference: At any time after commencement of an action, the court may direct the attorneys for the parties to appear for a conference on the subject of discovery. The court shall do so up motion by the attorney for any party if the motion includes:

1. A statement of the issues as they then appear;

2. A proposed plan and schedule of discovery;

3. Any limitations proposed to be placed on discovery;

4. Any other proposed orders with respect to discovery; and

5. A statement showing that the attorney making the motion has made a reasonable effort to reach agreement with opposing attorneys on the matters set forth in the motion.

Each party and his attorney are under a duty to participate in goodfaith in the framing of a discovery plan if a plan is proposed by the attorney for any party. Notice of the motion shall be served on all parties. Objections or additions to matters set forth in the motion shall be served not later than ten (10) days after service of the motion.

Following the discovery conference, the court shall enter an ordertentatively identifying the issues for discovery purposes, establishing a plan and schedule for discovery, setting limitations on discovery, if any; and determining such other matters, including the allocation of expenses, as are necessary for the proper management of discovery in the action. In preparing the plan for discovery the court shall protect the parties from excessive or abusive use of discovery. An order shall be altered or amended whenever justice so requires.

Subject to the right of a party who properly moves for a discovery conference to prompt convening of the conference, the court maycombine the discovery conference with a pretrial conference.

Section 12-3226(F)

Before Whom Depositions May Be Taken: Within this state, depositions shall be taken before an officer authorized to administer oaths by the laws of the place where the examination is held, or before a person appointed by the court in which the action is pending. A person so appointed has power to administer oaths and take testimony.Depositions may be taken outside of Oklahoma: On notice before a person authorized to administer oaths in the place in which the examination is held, either by the law thereof orby the law of this state; or Before a person commissioned by the court, and a person so commissioned shall have the power by virtue of his commission to administer any necessary oath and take testimony; or A commission or a letter rogatory shall be issued on application and notice and on terms that are just and appropriate. It is not requisite to the issuance of a commission or a letter rogatory that the taking of the deposition in any other manner is impracticable or inconvenient; and both a commission and a letter rogatory may beissued in proper cases. A notice or commission may designate theperson before whom the deposition is to be taken either by name ordescriptive title. Evidence obtained in response to a letter rogatory need not be excluded merely for the reason that it is not a verbatim transcript or that the testimony was not taken under oath or for any similar departure from the requirements for depositions taken within this state. Section 12-3228

Depositions

Stipulations:

Unless the court orders otherwise, the parties may by written stipulation:

1. Provide that depositions may be taken before any person, at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner and when so taken may be used like other depositions; and

2. Modify other procedures governing or limitations placed upon discovery, except that stipulations extending the time provided in Sections 3226, 3233, 3234 and 3236 of this title for responses to discovery may, if they would interfere with any time set for completion of discovery, be made only with the approval of the court. A person designated by the stipulation has the power by virtue of his designation to administer any necessary oath. Section 12-3229

Interrogatories

A. Any party may serve upon any other party written interrogatories to be answered by the party served or, if the party served is a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency, by any officer or agent, who shall furnish such information as is available to that party. Interrogatories may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action or upon any other party with the summons and petition or after service of the summons and petition on that party.Each interrogatory shall be answered separately and fully in writing under oath, unless it is objected to, in which event the objecting party shall state the reasons for objection and shall answer to the extent the interrogatory is not objectionable. The number of interrogatories to a party shall not exceed thirty in number. Interrogatories inquiring as to the names and locations of witnesses, or the existence, location and custodian of documents or physical evidence shall be construed as one interrogatory. All other interrogatories, including subdivisions of one numbered interrogatory, shall be construed as separate interrogatories. No further interrogatories will be served unless authorized by the court. If counsel for a party believes that more than thirty interrogatories are necessary, he shall consult with opposing counsel promptly and attempt to reach a written stipulation as to a reasonable number of additional interrogatories. Counsel are expected to comply with this requirement in good faith. In the event a written stipulation cannot be agreed upon, the party seeking to submit such additional interrogatories shall file a motion with the court (1) showing that counsel have conferred in good faith but sincere attempts to resolve the issue have been unavailing, (2) showing reasons establishing good cause for their use, and (3) setting forth the proposed additional interrogatories. The answers are to be signed by the person making them, and the objections signed by the attorney making them. The party upon whom the interrogatories have been served shall serve a copy of the answers and objections if any, within thirty (30) days after the service of the interrogatories, except that a defendant may serve answers or objections to interrogatories within forty-five (45) days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant. A shorter or longer time may be directed by the court or, in the absence of such an order, agreed to in writing by the parties subject to Section 3229 of this title. All grounds for an objection to an interrogatory shall be stated with specificity. Any ground not stated in a timely objection is waived unless the party’s failure to object is excused by the court for good cause shown. The party submitting the interrogatories may move for an order under subsection A of Section 3237 of this title with respect to any objection to or other failure to answer an interrogatory.

B. Interrogatories may relate to any matters which can be inquired into under subsection B of Section 3226 of this title, and the answers may be used to the extent permitted by the Oklahoma Evidence Code as set forth in Sections 2101 et seq. of this title. An interrogatory otherwise proper is not necessarily objectionable because an answer to the interrogatory involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact. The court may order that such an interrogatory need not be answered until after designated discovery has been completed or until a pretrial conference or other later time. Section 12-3233

Production

Any party may serve on any other party a request:

1. To produce and permit the party making the request, or someone acting on his behalf, to inspect and copy any designated documents including, but not limited to, writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, motion picture films, phonograph records, tape and video recordings, records and other data compilations from which information can be obtained, translated, if necessary, by the respondent through detection devices into reasonably usable form, or to inspect and copy, test or sample any tangible things which constitute or contain matterswithin the scope of subsection B of Section 3226 of this title andwhich are in the possession, custody or control of the party upon whomthe request is served; or

2. To permit entry upon designated land or other property in the possession or control of the party upon whom the request is served for the purpose of inspection and measuring, surveying, photographing,testing or sampling the property or any designated object or operation thereon, within the scope of subsection B of Section 3226 of this title.Section 12-234

Physical and Mental Examinations of Persons

When the physical, including the blood group, or mental condition of a party or of a person in custody or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy in any proceeding in which the person relies upon thatcondition as an element of his claim or defense, an adverse party may take a physical or mental examination of such person. The party desiring to take the physical or mental examination of another party or of a person in custody or control of another party within the scope of subsection A of this section shall serve his request upon the person to be examined and all other parties. The request shall specify the time, place, manner, conditions and scope of the examination and theperson or persons by whom it is to be made. No request shall be served until thirty (30) days after service of summons and petition upon the defendant. The request shall set a timefor the examination not less than five (5) days after service of thenotice. If the party or person in custody or control of the party who is to be examined objects to the physical or mental examination then he shall file a motion objecting to the examination and setting out the reasons why his mental or physical condition is not in controversy or such person may apply for a protective order under the provisions of subsection C of Section 3226 of this title. The burden of proof is upon the person objecting to the examination or requesting a protective order. The court may set the conditions for examination or refuse to permit such examination if the mental or physical condition is not in controversy. If the party or the person in custody or control of the party refuses to obey the court order to submit to a physical or mental examination the court may impose those sanctions provided for in paragraph 4 of subsection A and paragraph 2 of subsection B of Section 3237 of this title. If the motion is granted to prohibit the examination, the court may impose those sanctions provided for in paragraph 4 of subsection A of Section 3237 of this title upon the party requesting the examination. When the physical, including the blood group, or mental condition of a party, or a person in the custody or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy but does not meet the conditions set forth in subsection A of this section, the court in which the action is pending may order the party to submit to a physical or mental examination by a suitably licensed or certified examiner or to produce for such examination the agent, employee or person in his custody or legal control. The order may be made only on motion for good cause shown and upon notice to the person to be examined and to all parties. The order shall specify the time, place, manner, conditions and scope of the examination and the person or persons by whom it is to be made. A representative of the person to be examined may be present at the examination. If requested by the party or the person examined under this section, the party causing the examination to be made shall deliver to him a copy of a detailed written report of the examiner setting out his findings, including results of all tests made, diagnoses and conclusions, together with the like reports of all earlier examinations of the same condition. After delivery, the party causing the examination shall be entitled upon request to receive from the party or person against whom the order is made a like report of any examination, previously or thereafter made, of the same condition, unless, in the case of a report of examination of a person not a party, the party shows that he is unable to obtain it. The court on motion may enter an order against a party requiring delivery of a report on such terms as are just. If an examiner fails or refuses to make a report the court may exclude his testimony if offered at the trial. If the physician or psychotherapist-patient privilege has not already been waived as provided in the Oklahoma Evidence Code requesting and obtaining a report of the examination made or by taking the deposition of the examiner, the party examined waives any privilege he may have in that action or any other involving the same controversy, regarding the testimony of every other person who has examined or may thereafter examine him in respect of the same physical or mental condition. This subsection applies to examinations made by agreement of the parties, unless the agreement expressly provides otherwise. This subsection does not preclude discovery of a report of an examiner or the taking of a deposition of the examiner in accordance with the provisions of any other section of the Oklahoma Discovery Code.

Section 12-3235

Requests for Admissions

A party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admission, for purposes of the pending action only, of the truth of any matters within the scope of Section 3226 of this title set forth in the request that relate to statements or opinions of fact or of the application of law to fact, including the genuineness of any documents described in the request. Copies of documents shall be served with the request for admission unless they have been or are otherwise furnished or made available for inspection and copying. The request may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with the summons and petition or after service of the summons and petition upon that party. The number of requests for admissions for each party is limited to thirty. No further requests for admission will be served unless authorized by the court. If counsel for a party believes that more than thirty requests for admissions are necessary, he shall consult with opposing counsel promptly and attempt to reach a written stipulation as to a reasonable number of additional requests for admissions. Counsel are expected to comply with this requirement in good faith. In the event a written stipulation cannot be agreed upon, the party seeking to submit such additional requests for admissions shall file a motion with the court (1) showing that counsel have conferred in good faith but sincere attempts to resolve the issue have been unavailing, (2) showing reasons establishing good cause for their use, and (3) setting forth the proposed additional requests. Each matter of which an admission is requested shall be separately set forth. The matter is admitted unless, within thirty (30) days after service of the request, or within such shorter or longer time as the court may allow, the party to whom the request is directed serves upon the party requesting the admission a written answer or objection addressed to the matter, signed by the party or by his attorney, but unless the court shortens the time, a defendant shall not be required to serve answers or objections before the expiration of forty-five (45) days after service of the summons and petition upon him.

If objection is made, the reasons therefor shall be stated. The answer shall specifically deny the matter or set forth in detail the reasons why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny the matter. A denial shall fairly meet the substance of the requested admission, and when good faith requires that a party qualify his answer or deny only a part of the matter of which an admission is requested, he shall specify so much of it as is true and qualify or deny the remainder. An answering party may not give lack of information or knowledge as a reason for failure to admit or deny unless he states that he has made reasonable inquiry and that the information known or readily obtainable by him is insufficient to enable him to admit or deny. A party who considers that a matter of which an admission has been requested presents a genuine issue for trial may not, on that ground alone, object to the request; he may, subject to the provisions of subsection D of Section 3237 of this title, deny the matter or set forth reasons why he cannot admit or deny it.

The party who has requested the admission may move to determine the sufficiency of the answers or objections. Unless the court determinesthat an objection is justified, it shall order that an answer be served. If the court determines that an answer does not comply with the requirements of this section, it may order either that the matter is admitted or that an amended answer be served.

The court may, in lieu of these orders, determine that final disposition of the request be made at a pretrial conference or at a designated time prior to trial. The provisions of paragraph 4 of subsection A of Section 3237 of this title apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion. Section 12-3236

Compel Discovery

A party, upon reasonable notice to other parties and all persons affected thereby, may apply for an order compelling discovery as follows: An application for an order to a party may be made to the court in which the action is pending, or, on matters, relating to a deposition, to the district court in the county where the deposition is being taken. An application for an order to a deponent who is not a party shall be made to the district court in the county where the deposition is being taken or to the court in which the action is pending. If a deponent fails to answer a question propounded or submitted under Section 3230 or 3231 of this title, or a corporation or other entity fails to make a designation under paragraph 6 of subsection C of Section 3230 or subsection A of Section 3231 of this title, or a party fails to answer an interrogatory submitted under Section 3233 of this title, or if a party, in response to a request for inspection submitted under Section 3234 of this title, fails to respond that the inspection will be permitted as requested or fails to permit the inspection as requested, the discovering party may move for an order compelling an answer, or a designation, or an order compelling inspection in accordance with the request. The motion must include a statement that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer either in person or by telephone with the person or party failing to make the discovery in an effort to secure the information or material without court action. When taking a deposition on oral examination, the proponent of the question may complete or adjourn the examination before he applies for an order.

If the court denies the motion in whole or in part, it may make such protective order as it would have been empowered to make on a motion made pursuant to subsection C of Section 3226 of this title. For purposes of this subsection, an evasive or incomplete answer is to be treated as a failure to answer. Section 12-3237

Domestic Actions Discovery Notes

If you require extra time to respond to discovery, you should ask the other side for an extension in writing. It may also be necessary to enter an order granting the extension to protect your rights.

Discovery questions are limited in number so select the most important questions to ask the other side. Don’t waste your requests writing questions that you already know the answer to.