Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tips on both drafting interrogatories and then answering them

From a series of practice tips published in New York State Bar Journal by New York criminal judge Gerald Lebovits, who is also an adjunct law professor at Columbia, Fordham and St. John's. The first one, Drafting New York Civil-Litigation Documents: Part XI — Interrogatories, is available at 83  New York State Bar Journal 9 (November/December 2011) and here on SSRN. Here's a brief excerpt:

In the last issue, [I] discussed the bill of particulars.The focus in this issue is on interrogatories. Similar to bills of particulars, interrogatories elicit detailed information about a case. Interrogatories are different from bills of particulars. Interrogatories are a disclosure device. Unlike bills of particulars, interrogatories aren’t part of the pleadings; they don’t bind the party to the claims the party is seeking.  Also, interrogatories, unlike bills of particulars, can seek facts and evidence on the issues that the proponent and the responding party have the burden of proving at trial. Bills of particulars are meant to amplify the pleadings, limit the issues in a case, and prevent surprise. Interrogatories are meant to elicit evidence for trial.  Interrogatories are written questions that one party draws up and serves on another party.  You may probe any relevant, unprivileged subject in your interrogatories.  The other party —the responding party — responds to, or answers, the interrogatories under oath and sends the responses to the proponent, the inquiring party. In federal court, practitioners use interrogatories. Bills of particulars don’t exist under the federal rules. In federal court, interrogatories are available to all parties in all actions.  Unless the parties stipulate to more interrogatories or a court permits that to happen, each party is limited to 25 interrogatories in federal court.  So much for federal court. This article will focus on interrogatories in New York state courts.

And here's a follow-up article offering advice on answering those interrogatories.   Entitled Drafting New York Civil-Litigation Documents: Part XII — Responding to Interrogatories, it's available at 84 New York State Bar Journal 1 (January 2012) and on SSRN here.  An excerpt:

After you’ve been served with interrogatories,you must respond. Here’s a step-by-step guide to responding to interrogatories:

• Determine your deadline to respond. As discussed in the last issue of the Legal Writer, you have 20 days to respond.

• Give your client a copy of the interrogatories. You’ll need your client to help you respond.

• Review the interrogatories.

• Determine which interrogatories seek information that’s burdensome or vague. We’ll discuss later in this column what you need to do when an interrogatory is burdensome or vague.

• Determine which interrogatories are objectionable. We’ll discuss later on in this article what objections to assert and why.

Keep reading Judge Lebovits' tips here.

Hat tip to the (new) legal writer.

(jbl)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2012/03/tips-on-both-drafting-interrogatories-and-then-answering-them.html

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