The Discovery Stage
Discovery is the formal process of exchanging information between the parties about the witnesses and evidence to be presented at trial. The purpose of discovery is to make the parties aware of the evidence that may be presented at trial. The process prevents “trial by ambush,” where one side does not learn of the other side’s evidence or witnesses until the trial.
Taking depositions is one of the most common methods of discovery. Such depositions are to be used at trial or in preparation for trial. Depositions may be in the form of a written transcript, a videotape, or both. The plaintiff and the defendant have the right to be present during oral depositions.
Through depositions, a party is able to know in advance about a witness statement at trial. Furthermore, depositions can be taken to obtain the testimony of important witnesses who will not able to appear during the trial. Depositions consist of an oral examination. It is followed by cross-examination by the opposing side. In discovery, either party may submit written questions referred to as interrogatories to the other party requiring them to be answered in writing under oath.
Another method of discovery is subpoenaing or requiring the other side to produce books, records or other documents for inspection. As a part of discovery, a party may have the other side submit to a physical examination or ask that a document be submitted for examination to determine the genuineness of the document.