Texas Discovery Law


Evidence – Discovery – Texas

Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive summary of discovery law in Texas, 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.
Texas Rules of Civil Procedure

Texas has adopted the Texas Rules of Practice in District and County Courts.These rules apply in divorce proceedings.

Discovery

Pretrial Conference:In an appropriate action, to assist in the disposition of the case without undue expense or burden to the parties, the court may in its discretion direct the attorneys for the parties and the parties or their duly authorized agents to appear before it for a conference. Rule 166

Discovery Conference: Permissible forms of discovery are (a) oral or written depositions of any party or non-party,(b) written interrogatories to a party, (c)requests of a party for admission of facts and the genuineness or identity of documents or things, (d) requests and motions for production, examination, and copying of documents or other tangible materials, (e) requests and motions for

entry upon and examination of real property and (f) motions for a mental or physical examination of a party or person under the legal control of a party. Rule 166b

Scope of Discovery: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter which is relevant to the subject matter in the pending action whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or the claim or defense of any other party. Rule 166b(2)(a)

Documents and Tangible Things: A party may obtain discovery of the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, location and contents of any and all documents, (including papers,books,accounts, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, electronic or videotape recordings, and any other data compilations from which information can be obtained and translated, if necessary, by the person from whom production is sought, into reasonably usable form) and any other tangible things which constitute or contain matters relevant to the subject matter in the action. Rule 166b(2)(b)

Experts and Reports of Experts: A party may obtain discovery of the identity and location (name, address and telephone number) of an expert who may be called as an expert witness, the subject matter on which the witness is expected to testify, the mental impressions and opinions held by the expert and the facts known to the expert (regardless of when the factual information was acquired)which relate to or form the basis of the mental impressions and opinions held by the expert. Rule 166b(2)(e)(1)

Medical Records; Medical Authorization: Any party alleging physical or mental injury and damages arising from the occurrence which is the subject of the case shall be required, upon written request, to produce, or furnish an authorization permitting the full disclosure of, medical records not theretofore furnished to the requesting party which are reasonably related to the injury or damages asserted. Rule 166b(2)(h)

Duty to Supplement: A party who has responded to a request for discovery that was correct and complete when made is under no duty to supplement his response to include information thereafter acquired, except the following shall be supplemented not less than thirty days prior to the beginning of trial unless the court finds that a good cause exists for permitting or requiring later supplementation. Rule 166b(6)

Stipulations: Unless the court orders otherwise. the parties may by written agreement (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 deposition, and (2) modify the procedures provided by these rules for other methods of discovery. An agreement affecting a deposition upon oral examination is enforceable if the agreement is recorded in the deposition transcript. Rule 166(c)

Production

Any party may serve on any other party a request to produce and permit the party making the request, or someone acting on his behalf, to inspect, sample, test, photograph and/or copy, any designated documents or tangible things which constitute or contain matters within the scope of Rule 166b which are in the possession, custody or control of the party upon whom the request is served. Rule 167(a)

Physical and Mental Examination of Persons

When the mental or physical condition (including the blood group) of a party, or of a person in the custody, conservatorship or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending may order the party to submit to a physical or mental examination by a physician or psychologist or to produce for examination the person in his custody, conservatorship or legal control. Rule 167(a)

Interrogatories to Parties

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 an officer or agent who shall furnish such information as is available to the party. The number of questions including subsections in a set of interrogatories shall be limited so as not to require more than thirty answers. No more than two sets of interrogatories may be served by a party to any other party, except by agreement or as may be permitted by the court after hearing upon a showing of good cause. Rule 168

Requests for Admission

At any time after commencement of the action, 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 Rule 166b 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. Rule 169

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.