Discovery refers to the process of getting information from another party (a Plaintiff or a Defendant) before trial. Discovery is a legal tool each party can use to strengthen their case. Through discovery you may receive new information and documents. You may be able to use those documents as evidence at trial. Be aware that to use it in court, all evidence must meet separate requirements. You may use the new information to help develop your strategy for trial. Having this information can also help you determine whether or not to settle your case.
Maryland law has specific rules on how to request information from the other party. You can find those rules in the Maryland Rules of Procedure. Visit the State Law Library website to view the rules. Make sure you follow the requirements that apply to the type of court in which you filed your case. For instance, discovery in circuit court cases has different rules than discovery in the District Court. The information on this page applies only to discovery in the circuit court.
Interrogatories is a list of questions sent to the other party. You cannot send more than 30 questions to another party in a circuit court case. The Maryland Rules have form interrogatories that you can use as an example. Responses to interrogatories in circuit court cases are typically required 30 days after receiving them. Check Maryland Rule 2-421 to verify when the person receiving the request must respond.
Production of Documents
You can ask the other party to send you documents. This may include electronic information. There is no limit on the number of documents you can request of the other party. You should, though, only make reasonable and relevant requests. Responses are typically required 30 days after receiving the request. Check Maryland Rule 2-422 to verify when the person receiving the request must respond.
Request for Admissions
You can send a list of statements to the other party. The other party must either admit or deny that the statement is true. There is no limit on the number of statements that you send. You should, though, only send a reasonable amount. When you respond to this type of discovery request, you have a few options for how you respond to each statement. You may admit only part of a statement. If you cannot admit or deny a statement, you should provide a reason for why you cannot respond.
A subpoena is a court order. It can require a party to the case or a non-party to attend a trial and to bring evidence. If you want the court to issue a subpoena, you must get the form from the clerk’s office. Fill out the form with the name and address of the person you wish to attend trial. Include a description of evidence you wish them to bring to trial, if any. When you have filled out the form, turn it back into the clerk’s office. You must have the subpoena served on the person it is directed to. A sheriff may deliver the subpoena, or an adult who is not a party to the case may deliver it or send it certified restricted mail. The person receiving the subpoena may object to it. They must file a motion with the court to do so. You can find out more about subpoenas on the People’s Law Library of Maryland.
Always check the relevant Maryland law to determine the timing for a request or response. The court may also issue an order on when you can request and send information. This is a scheduling order. Make sure you know the deadlines for making a discovery request or responding to one. You should refer to both the Maryland Rules and any court orders in your case.
What Happens if a Party Does not Respond?
There are tools you can use to get the other party to respond. You should, though, first try to work with the other party. If the other party does not respond by the deadline, you should first write to ask them when they will respond. If they continue not to respond, you can file a motion to request the court to order the other party to respond. You receive a discovery request from the other side, make sure you send a timely response. The other party could also ask the court to order sanctions against you. This can include entering a judgment against you. Maryland Rule 2-432 and Rule 2-433 has more information.
What Happens if a Request is Not Relevant?
You may object to a discovery request if you have a reason. For example, if the request is not relevant to the case, you may object stating the request is irrelevant. Other common objections include that the request is too vague or too burdensome. Be careful when making objections. The other party may file a motion to request the court to force you to respond. If the court does not agree with your objection, the court will order you to respond. You can find more information in Maryland Rule 2-402 and on the People’s Law Library of Maryland.