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August 25, 2006

Sensitive Litigation Moment No. 12: Slick Answers to Lazy Interrogatories.

Allegedly, a perceptive and fed-up U.S. district court judge, throwing up his hands during arguments by lawyers on a motion to compel discovery responses, once referred to answers to interrogatories as "slick lawyer answers to lazy lawyer questions". I do feel his pain. Years ago, a new second year associate who worked briefly for our firm (after one year at another firm) complained that we were putting too much thought into a set of interrogatories under Rule 33, Fed. R. Civ. P. Our new hire patiently explained to me that interrogatories and other written discovery were in fact "simply a way for lawyers to bill time so they could make money--and nothing more." He was pretty adamant about it, too.

Color me silly, but I love and respect written discovery during the pretrial process in American federal courts. Complex and hard-fought civil cases turn about 90 per cent on the quality of the discovery questions and requests--both written questions and requests, and deposition questions--and the responses to them. And well-thought out and strategically timed written discovery, the kind that efficiently elicits useful and relevant information, is the best way there is to prepare great depositions--and get ready for trial.

Posted by JD Hull at August 25, 2006 08:23 PM


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