Some of the more common methods of gathering evidence include serving someone with a subpoena or a subpoena duces tecum to obtain their testimony or their records, taking depositions, and using interrogatories, requests for production, or requests for admission.
Some resources providing an overview of discovery are:
- A video about discovery from the King County Law Library
- Extensive overview of types of discovery from Genesis Law Firm
- Information about Formal Discovery: Gathering Evidence for Your Lawsuit from Nolo.com
- Information about the discovery process in litigation from Justia
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has 10 Steps for Presenting Evidence in Court, and Appendix A can help you identify possible evidence that you may want to gather as part of the discovery process for your case.
If you need to get a copy of a police report, the State Court has information about the procedures to follow to get the report.
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Chapter 5 pertains to discovery
Subpoenas are an order from a court telling someone to come to a deposition or come to court to offer their testimony. They can include directions to bring documents with them, in which case they are called a subpoena duces tecum. Subpoena requirements are discussed in Superior Court Rule CR 45. Additional information:
- Information and forms on Subpoenaing Witnesses and Documents from Washington LawHelp
- Instructions and forms for using subpoenas for discovery are in part 2 of this article from Genesis Law Firm
- Drafting and issuing discovery subpoenas: Washington from Practical Law provides tips about subpoenas
Depositions are a method of having someone testify under oath so you can see what they have to say before they testify at trial. Opposing parties can be deposed which is helpful both to avoid surprises in court and to lock in their testimony as they risk being impeached with contradictory answers at the trial. Third parties can also be deposed, which includes people such as witnesses or experts. Oral deposition requirements are discussed in Superior Court Rule CR 30.
A Deposition Notice can be used to require someone to testify at a deposition. A subpoena may also be necessary. For additional information:
Interrogatories and requests for production
Interrogatories and requests for production are often used together. Interrogatories are questions that ask the person responding to provide written answers. Requests for production are asking that the person produce the specified documents for you. These requirements are discussed in Superior Court Rules CR 33 and CR 34. Additional information and example documents:
- How to use written questions and requests for documents in a family law case from Washington LawHelp
- Instructions and forms to request and to respond to a request are in this article from Genesis Law Firm
- Pattern Interrogatories and Requests for Production written for family law cases in King County provide an example
Requests for admission
Requests for admission are a way to formally ask the other party to admit that certain facts are true. If the other party admits the fact, or fails to respond in time, those facts are deemed true for purposes of trial. This limits the number of things you need to prove at trial. Requests for admission requirements are discussed in Superior Court Rule CR 36.