Discovery in Litigation
When lawyers speak of “discovery” within the context of the handling of a lawsuit, they are referring to the process by which information is collected from an opposing party. This process includes interrogatories, requests for the production of documents and material things as well as depositions and other procedural devices. What all discovery devices have in common is to compel the opposing party, and sometimes, a neutral party to furnish information to the party requesting it.
Discovery is frequently and routinely done during the course of any lawsuit. The purpose is to permit the fullest possible exposure of all and any relevant information in order to allow the litigants to present their best prepared case in court. The process of discovery thus serves the public’s interest by helping to arrive at the truth in deciding cases presented by competing sides.
People involved in lawsuits should be aware that information which they might hope to remain undisclosed and unknown to their adversary is susceptible to being uncovered and utilized by the other side in the course of the adverse party’s right to conduct discovery. Communications exchanged with one’s own lawyer in the preparation of a case, however, is privileged and protected from discovery. Consequently, it is always wise to refrain from discussing one’s case with anyone outside of counsel. Posting or writing about one’s case on public media is particularly harmful as it puts the confidentiality of the attorney/client relationship in serious peril, and also unnecessarily broadens the resources from which one’s adversary has available to harvest information.