Evidence – Discovery – Rhode Island
Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive summary of discovery law in Rhode Island, 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.
Rhode Island Rules of Procedure for Domestic Relations
Rhode Island has adopted the Rules of Procedure for Domestic Relations for the Family Court of Rhode Island. The discovery provisions for domestic relations are contained in the rules.The rules also apply in divorce actions.
Scope of Rules:These rules govern procedure in the Family Court of Rhode Island in all civil proceedings. Rule 1
Depositions: The perpetuation of testimony regarding any matter which may be cognizable in this court shall be in accordance with the statutes of Rhode Island. Rule 27
Persons Before Whom Depositions May Be Taken: Within the state, depositions shall be taken before and officer authorized to administer oaths by the law of the state or before a person appointed by the court. Rule 28(a)
Within another state, or within a territory subject to the dominion of the United States, or in a foreign country, depositions may be taken on notice before a person authorized to administer oaths in the place in which the examination is held, or before a person 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
Interrogatories: Any party may serve upon another party written interrogatories to be answered by the party served. A party shall not serve no more than one set of interrogatories upon an adverse party and the total number of interrogatories shall not exceed thirty unless the court orders otherwise. Rule 33
Production: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 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
Request for Admissions:After the initiation of an action a party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admission by the latter of the genuineness of any relevant documents described in and exhibited with the request or of the truth of any relevant mattes of fact set forth in the request. Rule 36
Compel Discovery: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, 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.