Tag Archives: discovery motion

Discovery Requests in Litigation

Discovery in Civil Cases

Parties are not expected to know everything when they file or answer a civil complaint. Thanks to Michigan’s court-rules, parties have plenty of opportunities to find out what the other side has prior to proceeding to a trial or summary motion. Discovery requests are a huge in civil cases.

In contrast to cases involving criminal charges, there is no mandatory discovery required on either party. In some situations, neither party may need much discovery at all from the opposing party. Every case is different and tactics vary significantly depending on a litany of factors.

Instead, it is up to the respective parties to pursue their own discovery requests within the confines of court-rules, court-orders, scheduling orders, the restraints of the clients, subject matter, etc. Civil litigation is an adversarial process; the other side may not just hand over stuff that will help you win your case.

Interrogatories, admission-requests, and a request for document production are known as “discovery” requests. With civil litigation, each side can ask the opposing side about their case and ask for documents related to their case. Requests for discovery in some manner are standard in a vast majority of civil cases and these requests are very important with larger, more complicated civil cases filed in Circuit court.

Attorneys have the resources to discover a vast majority of information about their respective case through these methods. Online Forums such as Facebook or other programs are often key targets of information requests. Even deleted texts, messages, or e-mails could possibly be recovered.

These discovery requests may be made in a variety of ways.

Depositions

For more information on Depositions, click here.

Admissions

For more information on Admissions, click here.
Interrogatories

For more information on Interrogatories, click here.

Demand for Production

For more information on Demands for Production, click here.

The rules may be different for family-law cases, criminal cases, or other types of proceedings. Please note these articles and pages focus on the general rules for discovery in general civil litigation filed in Michigan’s District or Circuit courts. Further, the rules and methods may also be impacted by local court-rules and scheduling orders.

Requests for discovery in civil cases may not be allowed in Michigan’s District Courts or in Small-Claims matters without a court-order permitting them. However, these requests are frequently made if a civil-claim is pending in Michigan’s Circuit Courts.

Our experienced trial attorneys fight hard for our Michigan clients. We represent clients statewide. For a free initial consultation, feel free to contact us at (517) 507-5077.

If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, I encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. Circumstances may vary significantly. If you need specific legal advice, please privately consult with a lawyer.

 

Yes, thanks to Michigan’s Court Rules, you will get a copy of your police report

When you are a Criminal Defense attorney, police reports are a big deal. They are very important documents. While they are, in my opinion, not always accurate and they obviously come from a biased source, having access to police reports is essential. They are useful in so many different ways. These reports contain the blue-print for a prosecutor’s case. Additionally, they help us find other potential issues which may need further examination through discovery requests. How do we get access to police reports? The answer is found in Michigan’s court-rules and laws.

 

Criminal law, in some ways, is more “civil” than civil law. The goals are very different. In some aspects, in my opinion, the rules are fairer.  Prosecutors, if I ask them to, have to give me certain stuff and I have the option to ask for a court-order if they do not. Prosecutors do not have the option to bury me with huge interrogatory requests or ambush me with short-notice depositions. They cannot, unless it’s an usual circumstance, force my client to answer questions prior to trial. Further, prosecutors are required to turn over key chunks of their case to defense counsel upon request. This is all possible because of the discovery rules for criminal cases under Michigan law.

 

Discovery, broadly stated, is the process whereby the parties in both civil and criminal cases allow the respective sides to examine their potential evidence, take witness testimony, ask for documents, see potential exhibits, examine video/audio evidence, or other steps to examine their respective cases. The Michigan Court Rules and laws contain guidelines for appropriate steps and procedures. Ultimately, the presiding judge, subject to potential appellate review, has the final say over these matters.

 

With criminal cases under Michigan law and court-rules, discovery is different, depending on the type and severity of the charge. The court rules and applicable statutes explicitly require both the prosecutor and defense to turn over certain types of information, especially with felony charges. This is in stark contrast to civil cases. With civil cases, judges generally have much more discretion and may even prohibit discovery unless they  grant a court-order (district court civil-litigation, for example) to start the process.

 

With felony charges, prosecutors are required to turn over certain types of information to the defense, if requested to do so, as required pursuant to sub-chapter 6.200 et. al. of the Michigan Court Rules. In particular, MCR 6.201(A) requires that the prosecutor, among other things, turn over witness lists, witness statements, the curriculum vitae of all expert witnesses, and this rule requires that the prosecutor allow the defense to inspect “any tangible physical evidence that the party may introduce at trial.” MCR 6.201(A)(6).

 

MCR 6.201(B) is key rule because it requires a prosecutor to provide “any exculpatory information or evidence known to the prosecuting attorney,”MCR 6.201(B)(1). It also all police reports, written or recorded statements, regardless of whether the person testifies, of the defendant, co-defendant, or accomplice relating to a case, copies of warrants, and copies of any agreements related to the procurement of potential testimony in the case. This particular rule is absolutely vital. MCR 6.201(B)(2-5).

 

Discovery is also reciprocal. MCL 767.94a requires that the defense turnover certain types of potential evidence to the prosecutor as well.

 

There are limits to discovery. MCR 6.201(C) lists some of the restrictions and the rest of the court-rules under this sub-chapter deal with the procedures to resolve any disputes over discovery. Some information, for example, may be redacted or protected by court-order, there are certain time-frames involved, and other considerations as well. MCR 6.201(D & E, et. al).

 

With misdemeanor charges, though, discovery is not as clearly and explicitly defined. Most prosecutors will turn over essentially the same documents as they would for a felony charge; however, some courts request a properly filed motion by the defense first. Regardless of the charge, defense counsel usually needs to file a formal request with the prosecutor to receive discovery.

 

This “request” usually is made through a “discovery demand” often filed when defense counsel files an appearance on behalf of an alleged defendant in a pending criminal case. However, either the prosecution or defense may file additional motions requesting discovery as the case proceeds and ask for a court-order. MCR 6.201(D & E, et. al).

 

These mandatory discovery requirements, especially the provision requiring prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence, are essential for the criminal justice system. When prosecutors fail to turn over exculpatory evidence, the odds of a wrongful conviction may rise exponentially.

It is not a perfect system, of course. There have been tragic examples of situations where prosecutors failed to disclose exculpatory evidence, defense attorneys played games with discovery, or other various types abuses. Gamesmanship with discovery is certainly not dead.

However, Michigan, at least, has rules that put the emphasis on the prosecutor to level the playing field a little bit.

Our experienced trial attorneys fight hard for our Michigan clients. We represent clients statewide. For a free initial consultation, feel free to contact us at (517) 507-5077.

For more information on Michigan criminal law, click here.

Anyone charged, of course, is presumed innocent. The prosecutor would need to prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt if the matter proceeded to trial. Simply because a person is charged does not mean that ultimately, they will be convicted.

If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, I encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. Circumstances may vary significantly. If you need specific legal advice, please privately consult with a lawyer.

If you are charged with an offense and cannot afford to pay for your own defense, the court may appoint you an attorney payable at the public’s expense. You have a right to counsel.