The discussion of disclosures and discovery is a general discussion only. There are many procedural rules applicable to each procedure. One must consult the applicable rules.
During the period while a case is pending, the parties engage in a process called discovery to determine what the issues of the case are and what evidence exists that relates to the case. This process is generally governed by the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 26 through 37.
Arizona has also adopted disclosure rules that require each party to affirmatively disclose all facts and witnesses the parties are aware of, whether helpful or harmful, to all other parties. This includes the names and addresses of witnesses or people who may have knowledge or relevant information. One must also disclose what information these potential witnesses may have. One must identify the existence, location, custodian and general description of any relevant, tangible evidence and documents the party plans on using at trial.
Each party must disclose the legal theories being asserting, as well as the factual basis for such theories. Any expert(s) each party plans to call at trial must also be disclosed, including the expert's name, address, qualifications, subject matter, and the substance of the expert's opinions and basis for those opinions. The parties are to exchange disclosure statements of all known information within 40 days of the filing the Answer. As additional information becomes known, the parties are under a continuing duty to make reasonable supplemental disclosure of the additional information within 30 days of its discovery. The purpose of these disclosure requirements is to speed up the pretrial process and reduce the costs of litigation.
Beyond the affirmative disclosure requirements, there are certain procedures available to obtain specific information from the other parties or witnesses. Some of these procedures are described as follows:
Depositions, ARCP Rules 27 to 32: A deposition is a procedure where a witness is required to appear at a specified location for the purpose of providing information regarding a matter under litigation. The witness can be compelled to bring documents or other tangible evidence to the deposition. At the deposition, the attorneys for the parties place the witness under oath for the purpose of answering questions. The questions and answers are taken down by a court reporter, who then prepares a written transcript of the deposition. After the transcript is prepared the witness has the opportunity to review and make corrections to the transcript. The deposition can be used later at trial to impeach the witness with any inconsistent statements or can be read to the jury instead of calling the witness in person at trial. Depositions can also be videotaped so the jury can see the witness as the witness is testifying. Depositions can also be done with written questions and answers.
Interrogatories, ARCP Rule 33: The parties can send to one another written questions that the other side must answer. The party receiving the interrogatories has 40 days in which to answer the questions or make an objection to the questions. Besides its primary function of finding out information, the answers to the interrogatories can be read to the jury as admissions of the answering party.
Request for Production or Inspection, ARCP Rule 34: A party may request another party to produce tangible evidence for review and copying or to go on to a property to inspect the premises. The party receiving the request has 40 days to comply with the request or file an objection to the request. Any item within the possession or control of the party can be requested, subject to an objection for the production or inspection.
Physical or Mental Examination, ARCP Rule 35: When a party's physical or mental condition is at issue or in controversy, another party can have that party examined by the appropriate physician or psychologist. The party being examined may have a representative present during the examination and may also record it by audio tape. A copy of any record made of the examination shall be made available to any party upon request. In addition, the party being examined can request that the examiner make a report of the examination. The report is due 20 days after the request for the report is made.
Request for Admission, ARCP Rule 36: Any party can send requests for admission to any other party. The request for admission sets forth statements that the receiving party must admit or deny or object to within 40 days of receipt. If no response by way of admission, denial or objection is made within 40 days, the statement is deemed admitted. The party, in responding to a request for admission, must make reasonable inquiry of information that is known to or readily obtainable by the party.
Sanctions, ARCP Rule 37: Failure by a party to comply or respond to a discovery request or to disclose information may result in a sanction to that non-responding party. The range of sanctions is quite broad and can range from financial sanctions to striking a party's pleadings. The type of sanction imposed is left to the sound discretion of the Court.