Evidence – Discovery – Massachusetts
Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive summary of discovery law in Massachusetts, but does include basic and other information.
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.
Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure
Massachusetts has adopted the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure which contain rules governing discovery. The discovery rules also apply in divorce actions.
Discovery Methods: Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the followings methods: depositions upon oral examinations or written questions, written interrogatories, production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, physical and mental examinations, and requests for admission. Rule 26(a)
Scope: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action. Rule 26(b)(1)
Experts: A party may through interrogatories require another party to identify each person whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial. Rule 26(b)(4)
Sequence and Timing of Discovery: Unless the court orders otherwise, methods of discovery may be used in any sequence. Rule 26(d)
Supplementation of Responses: A party who has responded to a request for discovery with a response that was complete when made is under no duty to supplement his response to information acquired, except as follows: the party is under a duty seasonably to supplement his response with respect to a question concerning the identity and location of persons having knowledge of discoverable matters and the identity of each person expected to be called as an expert witness at trial. A party is also under a duty to amend a prior response if the party knows the response was incorrect when made or he knows the response though correct when made is no longer true. Rule 26(e)
Before Whom Depositions May Be Taken:Within the United States, depositions may be taken before a notary public or a person appointed by the court. Rule 28(a)
Outside of the United States, depositions may be taken on notice before a person authorized to administer oaths in the place of examination, or before a person appointed or commissioned by the court, or pursuant to a letter rogatory. Rule 28(b)
Stipulations: Unless the court orders otherwise, the parties may by written stipulation provide that depositions be taken at any time, any place, and upon any notice. Rule 29
Any party may serve upon another party written interrogatories to be answered by the party served. Each interrogatory shall be answered fully in writing and under oath. Unless ordered by the court, more than one set of interrogatories may be served on a particular party, but not more than thirty interrogatories may be served by a party on another party. Rule 33
Any party may serve upon another party a request to produce certain documents, not privileged, to be inspected and copied. Rule 34
Physical and Mental Examination of Persons
When the mental or physical condition (including the blood group) 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 to produce for examination the person in his custody or control. Rule 35
Requests for Admissions
A party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admission, of the truth of any matters within the scope of Rule 26(B) set forth in the request, including the genuineness of any documents described in the request. Rule 36
A party, upon reasonable notice to the other parties may apply for an order compelling discovery. If a party refuses to allow inspection or fails to answer a question propounded or submitted under Rule 30 or 31, the discovering party may move for an order compelling an answer. Rule 37
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.
Related Massachusetts Legal Forms
- Discovery Interrogatories for Divorce Proceeding for either Plaintiff or Defendant – Another Form
- Discovery Interrogatories from Defendant to Plaintiff with Production Requests
- Discovery Interrogatories from Plaintiff to Defendant with Production Requests
- Interrogatories to Defendant for Motor Vehicle Accident
- Interrogatories to Plaintiff for Motor Vehicle Occurrence