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7-1 Discussion: Discovery and Judicial Efficiency

After reviewing the module resources, consider the following prompt. The process of discovery allows each side of a court case to “discover” a wide array of information relevant to the legal and factual issues in the case. Discovery can include document requests (requests that the other side produce ledgers, tax returns, medical records, or other items related to the case), interrogatories (written questions to be answered by the litigants or witnesses on the other side), and depositions (questioning a litigant or witness under oath in front of a court reporter who transcribes the questions and answers). Discovery can be time-consuming and expensive; yet, it can also lead to case settlement after the litigants have a chance to consider all of the evidence and more accurately assess their odds of winning at trial. In your initial post, describe what you think is the impact on judicial efficiency of allowing for wide-reaching, thorough discovery. Defend your position with examples or detailed explanation. Be sure to address the issue of costs as well as court caseloads. 

Reading and Resources

Textbook: Judicial Process in America, Chapters 7 and 11 Chapter 7 explores the “backstory” of judicial decision making: the influence of political leanings on judicial appointments and resulting court rulings. These considerations are most readily apparent in the realm of civil law, particularly related to business matters such as healthcare, minimum wage, and immigration. Chapter 11 provides an overview of types of civil law, including tort law, business law, and probate of estates. The chapter then walks through the civil litigation process, from filing through resolution or judgment. While reading, consider the following:

  • Is judicial process too intertwined with politics? Or, since the public elects the president who appoints Supreme Court justices, is it appropriate that judges have political leanings that reflect the will of the American electorate?
  • How does the civil litigation process differ from that of criminal cases?
  • Does the use of alternative dispute resolution provide a just and efficient means of resolving civil cases? Or does it unfairly deprive litigants of their day in court?

PDF: Middle District Discovery: A Handbook on Civil Discovery Practice in the United States District Court for the Middle District of FloridaThis handbook—published by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida—sets out the rules, procedures, and standards for discovery in civil cases in that court. It was intended to guide attorneys and litigants in civil practice. Although it reflects local rules, these are typical of those found in all federal district courts. This handbook supports this module’s discussion assignment. Article: Civil CasesThis article from the United States Courts explains civil cases as part of the “Understanding the Federal Courts” publication series. This article supports this module’s discussion assignment.

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