Mississippi Discovery Law

Evidence – Discovery – Mississippi

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

Mississippi has adopted the Mississippi 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 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 subdivision (c) of this rule, the frequency of use of these methods is not limited. Rule 26(a)

Scope: Unless otherwise limited by order of the court in accordance with these rules, the scope of discovery is as follows: (1) Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party 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 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.Rule 26(b)(1)

Experts: Discovery of facts known and opinions held by experts, otherwise discoverable under the provisions of subdivision (b)(1) of this rule and acquired or developed in anticipation of litigation or for trial, may be obtained only as follows: (A) (i) A party may through interrogatories require any other party to identify each person whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial, to state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, and to state the substance of the opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and to state the underlying facts and data upon which the expert opinions are based, in conformity with Rule 705 I.R.E. (ii) Upon motion, the court may order further discovery by other means, subject to such restrictions as to scope and such provisions, pursuant to subdivision (b)(4)(C) of this rule, concerning fees and expenses as the court may deem appropriate. (iii) No party shall contact an expert witness of an opposing party without first obtaining the permission of the opposing party or the court. Rule 26(b)(4)

Discovery Conference. At any time after the commencement of the action, the court may hold a conference on the subject of discovery, and shall do so if requested by any party. Rule 26(c)

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, except to supplement with respect to any question directly addressed to (A) the identity and location of persons (i) having knowledge of discoverable matters, or (ii) who may be called as witnesses at the trial, 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.

A party is under a duty seasonably to amend a prior response if he obtains information upon the basis of which (A) he knows that the response was incorrect when made, or (B) he knows that the response, though correct when made, is no longer true and the circumstances are such that a failure to amend the response is in substance a knowing concealment.  Rule 26(f).

Before Whom Depositions May Be Taken: Within the United States depositions shall be initiated by an oath or affirmation administered to the deponent by an officer authorized to administer oaths by the laws of the United States or by a person specially appointed by the court in which the action is pending. Rule 28(a).

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 the procedures provided by these rules for other methods of discovery, except that stipulations extending the time provided in Rules 33, 34 and 36 for responses to discovery may be made only with the approval of the court. Rule 29.

Rule 30  Depositions:

May be taken after the action is filed. Leave of court, granted with or without notice, must be obtained only if the plaintiff seeks to take a deposition prior to the expiration of thirty days after service of the summons upon any defendant, except that leave is not required (1) if a defendant has served a notice of taking deposition or otherwise sought discovery, or (2) if special notice is given under subsection (b)(2) of this rule. The attendance of witnesses may be compelled by subpoena. The deposition of a person confined in prison may be taken only by leave of court on such terms as the court prescribes. Rule 30 (a)

The notice shall state the time and place for taking the deposition and the name and address of each person to be examined, if known, and, if the name is not known, a general description sufficient to identify him or the particular class or group to which he belongs. If a subpoena duces tecum is to be served on the person to be examined, the designation of the materials to be produced as set forth in the subpoena shall be attached to or included in the notice. A notice may provide for the taking of testimony by telephone. If necessary, however, to assure a full right of examination of any deponent, the court in which the action is pending may, on motion of any party, require that the deposition be taken in the presence of the deponent.

The notice of deposition required under (1) of this subsection (b) may provide that the testimony be recorded by other than stenographic means, in which event the notice shall designate the manner of recording and preserving the deposition. A court may require that the deposition be taken by stenographic means if necessary to assure that the recording be accurate. A motion by a party for such an order shall be addressed to the court in which the action in pending; a motion by a witness for such an order may be addressed to the court in the district where the deposition is taken.

The notice to a party deponent may be accompanied by a request for production of documents and tangible things at the taking of the deposition. The procedure governing production requests shall apply to the request. Rule 30(b)

Rule 33 Interrogatories

Any party may serve as a matter of right upon any other party written interrogatories not to exceed thirty in number 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 the party. Each interrogatory shall consist of a single question.

Interrogatories may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons and complaint upon that party. Leave of court, to be granted upon a showing of necessity, shall be required to serve in excess of thirty interrogatories.

Each interrogatory shall be answered separately and fully in writing under oath, unless it is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated in lieu of an answer.

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 days after the service of the interrogatories, except that a defendant may serve answers or objections within forty-five days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant. Rule 33

Rule 34 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 writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, phono-records, and other data compilations from which information can be obtained, translated, if necessary, by the respondent through detection devices into reasonably useable form), or to inspect and copy, test, or sample any tangible things which constitute or contain matters within the allowed discovery scope and which are in the possession, custody, or control of the party upon whom the 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 allowed discovery scope.

The request may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons and complaint upon that party. The request shall set forth the items to be inspected either by individual item or by category, and describe each item and category with reasonable particularity. The request shall specify a reasonable time, place, and manner of making the inspection and performing the related acts.

The party upon whom the request is served shall serve a written response within thirty days after the service of the request, except that a defendant may serve a response within forty-five days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time.

The response shall state, with respect to each item or category, that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested, unless the request is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated. If objection is made to part of an item or category, the part shall be specified.

When producing documents, the producing party shall produce them as they are kept in the usual course of business or shall organize and label them to correspond with the categories in the request that call for their production. Rule 34

RULE 35. [PHYSICAL AND MENTAL EXAMINATIONS OF PERSONS] [OMITTED]

Rule 36 Requests for Admissions

A party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admissions.  The request may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons upon that party.

The matter is admitted unless, within thirty 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 days after service of the summons 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.

The party who has requested the admissions may move to determine the sufficiency of the answers or objections.

Any matter admitted under this rule is conclusively established unless the court on motion permits withdrawal or amendment of the admission. Subject to the provisions governing amendment of a pre-trial order, the court may permit withdrawal or amendment when the presentation of the merits of the action will be subserved thereby and the party who obtained the admission fails to satisfy the court that withdrawal or amendment will prejudice him in maintaining his action or defense on the merits. Any admission made by a party under this rule is for the purpose of the pending action only and is not an admission by him for any other purpose nor may it be used against him in any other proceeding. Rule 36

Rule 37  Compel Discovery

A party, upon reasonable notice to other parties and all persons affected thereby, may apply for an order compelling discovery.

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.


Inside Mississippi Discovery Law