While we have a great book on written discovery available through the website (you can read about it at this post) we wanted to take just a moment to answer the basic question, "What is Discovery"?
To answer it, we'll use an excerpt from that book "The Guerrilla Guide to Written Discovery".
Discovery is how the people on one side of the case, learn what kind of evidence the people on the other side of the case have.
It’s that simple.
Or is it?
Discovery is also a way to prevent the other side from entering evidence because if they have failed to produce it in response to a proper request, then as a general rule they aren’t allowed to use it.
That’s what makes discovery so important.
To reduce it down to its essence:
1) Discovery allows you to know what evidence each side has to support their cases so that you can properly evaluate your case and prepare for trial; and
2) Discovery allows you to tie them to a specific set of evidence for the trial. No trial by ambush.
If you are representing yourself in a lawsuit or you are considering filing a lawsuit yourself then it is absolutely imperative that you completely understand discovery. You need to consider it early, preferably before you even file the suit, because it is one of the first things that must be addressed and most attorneys file the discovery requests with their original lawsuit (if they are the ones suing) or when they file the Answer (if they are the ones being sued).
This is a subject that most people representing themselves (also known as appearing pro se or pro per) don't put enough time or thought into but good discovery can make your case and poor discovery can ruin it.