Evidence Discovery in Tennessee Civil Law Cases
In a Tennessee civil lawsuit one of the key pre-trial legal procedures involves written requests for production of documents. Like interrogatories and a deposition a request to produce documentary evidence is a discovery tool which is provided by the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. This legal process is used to discover or uncover the documentary evidence that is in the possession or control of your adversary. As with any other legal procedure discovering evidence involves questions of law and issues of legal strategy. A civil law attorney will prepare a request for production of documents in such a way as to maximize the possibility of effectively obtaining the evidence necessary to prosecute or defend your lawsuit. When responding to a request for production of documents your lawyer will carefully review the request and direct the responses according to legal principals and strategic considerations.
Discovery of Documents is Liberally Construed in Tennessee
Like most states, Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure are modeled or based upon the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the rules are liberally construed and interpreted to allow for discovery of most any type of information. The rules permit a request for documents which are likely to lead to the discovery of relevant and admissible evidence. In other words the documents that are requested do not necessarily have to be admissible evidence, but should reasonably be believed to lead to the discovery of other evidence which is relevant and able to be admitted at trial. There are exceptions to this generally broad rule of discovery. Your civil attorney will review any request and determine if such request is legitimately posed for the purpose of leading to discoverable evidence or if perhaps it is intended for an improper purpose like harassment or embarrassment. If the lawyer believes that a request is not legitimate the attorney will object on legal grounds. Typical grounds for legal based objections include:
- A Request for medical information protected under HIPPA
- A Request for confidential information that is not relevant to the case
- A Request for information that is protected under attorney/client privilege
- A Request for attorney work product – this is a broad term and is often overruled by the court
The Court may compel a response to a request for production of documents
If a request for production of documents is objected to by the attorney then the requesting party may file a motion requesting the court to compel or order a response to the request. The court will review the request and the objections then decide whether to require a response or not. Controversies related to requests that involve confidential or sensitive information are often resolved by the issuance of a protective order which allows for the discovery of such information, but explicitly restricts the use and dissemination of such information to the parties, their attorneys and the court. Documents produced under a protective order will not be made available to the public as a part of the public court file.
Have an Attorney Represent you in any Civil Lawsuit
Any civil lawsuit is serious and involves multiple issues. Obviously money is at stake, but most people do not realize that other issues, like your privacy are at issue in a civil legal action. In order to protect your legal rights you ought to retain an attorney for any lawsuit in which you are a party. It is the lawyer’s objective to not only defend or prosecute your cause of action, but to also protect you from unwarranted invasions of privacy and to ensure that your legal rights are upheld. Purple Law Firm is located in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee and our attorneys are experienced in defending and prosecuting civil legal actions. If you are involved in a civil lawsuit contact (Call (423) 899-0131 or email) a Purple Law Firm attorney. Our staff will answer any questions you may have and will thoroughly explain the civil procedure involved in your lawsuit, including the use of a request for production of documents.