The discovery process is the most time-consuming and most expensive stage of litigation. There are three parts of the discovery process in federal court: interrogatories, requests for documents and depositions.
- Interrogatories. Interrogatories are written questions that each party gives to the other to be answered in writing and under oath. (Oregon state court rules do not provide for interrogatories. This is relevant only in federal court.)
- Requests for Production of Documents. Each party asks the other to provide for inspection or copies of specific documents, photos, electronic files, etc. For example, the plaintiff might ask for her personnel file or the personnel file of some other employee who the plaintiff believes was treated more favorably. Document production can be time consuming and involved, particularly if we know there are certain documents in the employer’s possession which we have a right to, but which they object to producing. It is always an important part of the case and significant thought and energy is dedicated to drafting requests for production.
- Depositions. A deposition usually takes place in a lawyer’s conference room and the lawyer will ask questions of a witness while a court reporter records the questions and answers. This part is costly because the court reporter in entitled to payment for his or her time, and then charges per page for production of the transcript. It is similar to testifying at trial except that there is no judge or jury. As the plaintiff, you will be deposed by the defendant’s attorney. Your lawyer will devote time making sure you understand the process of a deposition and are prepared before you are deposed. You know your story better than anyone else. We also depose all witnesses who have information about the facts of the case. It is unethical for me or my investigator to call high-ranking management personnel, we must depose each of the players involved to get their stories. This is time-consuming and costly as well.
*(There is another part of discovery called requests for admission. A request for admission asks the other party to admit or deny certain statements.)