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What is a Document Request?

Corporate & Business Law

8 minute read

Welcome to CL basic law. Today we’re gonna talk about document requests. First, what is a DR? This is one of the major tools in discovery, discovery is the process by which each party obtains info from the other side to help their claims and use them to defeat the other side's claim/ so DRs are what they sound like they are requests for docs from the other side. Can you request electronic docs? Yes today those can be the most important whether they are emails, texts, wechat, electronically stored docs, memos almost everything is maintained on computers electronically so yes you can ask the other side to produce electronically stored materials, you request they go on to different computers, diff servers or move it also onto personal phones that they have if they are party and provide docs from those electronic sources. Why are DRs important? You need them to put your case on you want to 1 know what are the docs the other side relies on, there's a boc- what does the other side claim are the controlling docs setting forth the contract. Perhaps there might be a dispute over invoices, what r those invoices? Communications often ppl say 1 thing in a lawsuit and they say something else to other ppl within the org that is damaging to their position and they'll do it by email text etc and particularly in the electronic age people are careless with this, for some reason they believe it never will become known and in fact any good lawyer or pro se, that's the first place they're gonna go is to look for those elec communications. The objective of your document request is to prove your case or prove your defenses it’s not to look under every stone, so get clear in your mind if your the plaintiff what your claims are what your causes of action are and what docs will help you promote that claim and vice versa if your defendant what docs do you think will be helpful that the other person has in defeating the claim. So you're looking at liability and damages. What are the docs that help address those 2 issues regarding the claims including BOC, fraud, conversion, TS, wrongful termination, employment, but narrow it down it should not be a fishing expedition but can be quite broad. Is there a format you should follow- yes like every pleading you have the name of court case # parties and then what you tend to have are definitions so that ppl know what you're talking about. Often the person filing the document request will play games saying oh i don't know what that means or what entity you're talking about there so it's helpful to define entities and who they/you are means what our with an o-u-r is and those kinds of definitions. you also then wanna go and list each of your DRs separately 1-2-3-4 cuz when the other side responds they will respond accordingly to each of these requests. Try to organize them in a logical fashion so that when you go back to see if you got docs in response to your request and the persons responded properly it’s easier for you to follow your own work. Here’s an example. It shows the pleading head. The next pages are the definitions and the next page I started w requests, produce any and all docs regarding this and that. Who do you send a document request to? All the parties, there may be multiple parties in the suit and you may direct the request to a particular party but you must also send it to all parties so all parties must receive the request they don't have to answer only the person you sent the request or direct the request to has to answer the request but all parties must receive it and you must do the proof of service where you state that you have served all parties with copies of this request. In most jurisdictions there's no limit to # of DRs you can make but if the court feels your being abusive or harassing the other side they may reduce your requests, it’s an uncomfortable position to be in and you try to avoid it but at the same time you want to make sure your very thorough in your requests, sometimes you have to make your requests overlap a little bit to make sure no docs r falling between the gaps. So you may have 3 reqs in which it covers the same docs in part zaand diff docs in other parts so they overlap a little bit the other side can object but that just means that- say they produce docs and it should not be a big problem. When can you start DRs? you can start them any time of the (?) to the action. In federal court when you file a complaint you have to wait to have conference with the court b4 you can start your discovery but in state court you can go ahead and serve your complaint and you can actually attach a req for docs along with your complaints but the defendant not only has to answer the complaint but also has to answer your DR. DRs are fundamentally some of the most important discovery tools that are available out there, so please make sure you always do a document request w your case and always as soon as possible because you wanna have a document request before you do depositions, deps being when you pull the other party into your office and ask them questions under oath and you want to have the docs there because those docs will help you formulate questions and you may wanna ask about the docs- how they were prepared, what was discussed in the document, who the document was sent to etc. When you prepare the docs what do you do with DRs what do you do w them? Again you serve them to all parties to the action and specifically to the person you directed it to. Can you do more than 1 set of DRs? In most courts yes you can do multiple sets. The federal courts will reduce that down and eliminate it to 2 sets at this moment, those rules are always changing so the best practice is to make sure your first set is as complete as possible and then if need be follow up the second set and remember there's often discovery timelines so you wanna make sure you serve it within the timelines and your tracking those timelines. And the timelines are set by the court.

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