Your eviction process has started. You have been served with the legal papers that notify you of an Unlawful Detainer lawsuit.
In order to make the defense of your case better, an experienced tenant attorney will begin to look at the information that the landlord has. This investigation is called discovery. Unlike television shows where significant case-turning surprises are revealed by witnesses at the last minute, discovery is a legal process that allows each side to find out the information the other side has before going to court.
California allows four major types of discovery in eviction cases:
- Interrogatories. These are written questions the other party must answer under penalty of perjury.
- Depositions. These are oral questions of the other party or witnesses under oath. A court reporter records the questions and answers.
- Requests for Production. These are requests to produce documents. This type of discovery also includes the ability to inspect your apartment and the common areas of your building.
- Requests for Admissions. These are requests to the other party that they admit (or do not contest) any material fact or the authenticity of a document. This prevents disputes over this evidence during the trial.
Discovery also has time deadlines that must be followed, or you lose your opportunity to gain valuable information about your eviction. These deadlines can be as short as five calendar days for you or the landlord to respond to the discovery.
Each form of discovery has its own legal intricacies. Doing discovery that helps build your case to fight an eviction is best done by someone who has experience. You may wish to consult an experienced tenant attorney who knows how to do discovery. This person can help you obtain information from the landlord to build your case to protect your tenant’s rights.