Production of Documents is a routine part of the pretrial discovery portion of a Circuit Court case.
Requests that your opponent produce documents are not allowed, as such, in the District Court. However, within Interrogatories, you can request production of limited types of documents. More specifically, you can use District Court interrogatories to obtain these three things:
- Any written instrument upon which a claim or defense is founded.
- A statement previously made by the party making the request. An example of this is a statement given by a claimant to an adverse insurance company.
- Any written report made by an expert whom the responding party expects to call as an expert witness at trial.
See Maryland Rule 3-421(a)(3).
The rules governing Requests to produce documents, electronically stored information or property in the Circuit Court are contained in Maryland Rule 2-422.
This is exactly what the rule provides:
Any party may serve one or more requests to any other party (1) as to items that are in the possession, custody, or control of the party upon whom the request is served, to produce and permit the party making the request, or someone acting on the party’s behalf, to inspect, copy, test or sample designated documents or electronically stored information (including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations stored in any medium from which information can be obtained, translated, if necessary, by the respondent through detection devices into reasonably usable form) or to inspect and copy, test, or sample any designated tangible things which constitute or contain matters within the scope of Rule 2-402 (a); or (2) to permit entry upon designated land or other property in the possession or control of the party upon whom the request is served for the purpose of inspection, measuring, surveying, photographing, testing, or sampling the property or any designated object or operation on the property, within the scope of Rule 2-402 (a). (I would have loved to summarize that for you, but to summarize and omit portions could cause harm.)
A request shall set forth the items to be inspected, either by individual item or by category; describe each item and category with reasonable particularity; and specify a reasonable time, place, and manner of making the inspection and performing the related acts. The request may specify the form in which electronically stored information is to be produced.
The party to whom a request is directed shall serve a written response within 30 days after service of the request or within 15 days after the date on which that party’s initial pleading or motion is required, whichever is later. The response shall state, with respect to each item or category, that (1) inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested, (2) the request is refused, or (3) the request for production in a particular form is refused. The grounds for each refusal shall be fully stated. If the refusal relates to part of an item or category, the part shall be specified. If a refusal relates to the form in which electronically stored information is requested to be produced (or if no form was specified in the request) the responding party shall state the form in which it would produce the information.
(1) A party who produces documents or electronically stored information for inspection shall (A) produce the documents or information as they are kept in the usual course of business or organize and label them to correspond with the categories in the request, and (B) produce electronically stored information in the form specified in the request or, if the request does not specify a form, in the form in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a form that is reasonably usable.
(2) A party need not produce the same electronically stored information in more than one form.
This is a very powerful discovery method, and you should use it regularly.
With original court papers, I always serve the defendant with Requests to Produce Documents, Electronically Stored Information or Property. Note also that multiple requests can be made, so be sure to send additional requests as soon as you realize there are additional documents, electronically stored information or property that you should examine.
However, what’s sauce for the goose is . . . (you know the rest). Along with their original Answer, defense lawyers in the cases I handle will make requests that my client produce various documents, electronically stored information or property. These are examples of the types of material the defense will request from the plaintiff:
- The medical records that concern the treatment you received for your injuries.
- The medical bills for your treatment.
- Any accident report that was prepared.
- Any written statement(s) that witnesses have given you concerning the accident.
- Documentation of any lost income you claim.
- Your tax returns for the past several years, if you are claiming a loss of income.
- Your pre-accident medical records for the past several years.
- Any exhibits that we will introduce into evidence at trial.
If the defense asks for documents or property that we are not required to produce, we object to the request and file a Motion for Protective Order asking the Court to rule that we do not have to produce that documentation.
As with other types of discovery, failure to produce requested documents can result in serious sanctions. Therefore, as with all other discovery, document productions require your immediate and conscientious attention.