South Dakota Discovery Law

Evidence – Discovery – South Dakota

Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive summary of discovery law in South Dakota, 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.

South Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure

South Dakota has adopted the Rules of Civil Procedure in Circuit Courts. The rules of discovery are contained in Chapter 15-6, Sections 15-6-26 through 15-6-37. 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 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. Section 15-6-26(a)

Scope: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action. Section 15-6-26(b)

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. Section 15-6-26(b)(4)

Sequence and Timing of Discovery: Unless the court orders otherwise, methods of discovery may be used in any sequence. Section 15-6-26(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. Section 15-6-26(e)

Depositions:

Before Whom Depositions May Be Taken: Within the United States or within a territory subject to the dominion of the United States, depositions shall be taken before an officer authorized to administer oaths by the laws of the United States, or the place where the examination is held, or before a person appointed by the court in which the action is pending. Section 15-6-28(a)

If the deposition is taken in a foreign country, it is proper to take the deposition on notice before a person authorized to administer oaths in the the place in which the examination is held, or before a person commissioned by the court, or pursuant to a letter rotary. Section 15-6-28(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. Section 15-6-29

Interrogatories

Any party may serve upon another party written interrogatories to be answered by the party served. 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. Section 15-6-33

Production

Any party may serve upon another party a request to produce certain documents, not privileged, to be inspected and copied. Section 15-6-34(a)

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. Section 15-6-35(a)

Requests for Admission

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 15-6-26(b)set forth in the request, including the genuineness of any documents described in the request. Section 15-6-36(a)

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 propounded or submitted under section 15-6- 30 or section 15-6-31, the discovering party may move for an order compelling an answer. Section 15-6-37

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 South Dakota Discovery Law