August 25, 2014
You have probably learned that in the United States courts favor broad discovery. For example, in federal court parties are required to disclose certain information at the beginning of the case without being asked. Parties then must meet to create a plan and schedule for discovery. During discovery parties are able to seek a wide range of information from each other.
Of course there are controversies. For example, one party might believe that a document is immune from discovery because the document came from the party's lawyer and contains legal advice. How can this controversy be settled?
Courts usually encourage parties to settle the argument by discussing the problem and coming up with their own solutions. If that doesn't work, the parties might meet with a judge or a magistrate - - a special judge dealing with specific matters, such as discovery - - to resolve the issue.
Sometimes the party seeking the information will have to make a motion to compel. A motion is where a judge is asked to do something. A motion to compel is where a judge is asked to order someone to do something. For example, in a motion to compel production (disclosure) of a document, the party seeking the document will ask the judge to order the party holding the document to disclose it. If the motion is granted, the party in possession of the document must provide it to the moving party.
I uploaded a short video on motions to compel during discovery: