Discovery is how evidence is accumulated and presented before a court for use in determining a case's issues. Discovery can take place either before a trial occurs or after a trial has occurred. Discovery is not an independent procedure; it is a part of the plea bargain. Parties are aware that they will have to provide discovery to the opposing attorney. It is up to the attorney to determine whether he will request discovery from a party or defend the client based on the attorney-client privilege. Discovery is used in criminal cases and civil cases but is not limited to either area.
Discovery is frequently referred to in criminal cases because it is one of the steps involved in convicting a person of a crime. Discovery can be used in any criminal case, civil or criminal, and trial or verdict. Discovery can occur before or after a trial, and in either case, parties are obligated to discovery. Discovery is not considered a time-bar in civil litigation. However, it is often mentioned in reference to timing and the scope of discovery.
Discovery is designed to help the trier of fact establish the identity, credibility, and reliability of witnesses and information provided during a case. Discovery is referred to as a "procedural check" where parties must check whether a document or information they require is protected under the solicitor-client privilege. Discovery is related to the production of tangible items (such as books, records, documents, etc.) It also consists of a system where agencies must inform the opposing parties and relevant information regarding discovery. The Discovery procedure usually occurs before a motion for a judgment of any kind.
Discovery is frequently referred to as "discovery procedure" or "testimonial process." In most state courts, discovery consists of parties producing several documents to establish an answer to interrogatories, claims, cross-examinations, etc. Typically, the opposing parties are ordered to discover each other at a particular point in the litigation unless the court orders otherwise. In some instances, the courts allow the parties to conduct "smoke-outs" or depositions outside of the courtroom to resolve issues outside of the courtroom's realm. Such activities are often referred to as "hearings." Although depositions are generally considered non-oral communications between attorneys, courts have been known to allow oral depositions if requested by one party and "honest testimony."
Discovery is important for many different reasons. Often, discovery is utilized to determine what parties' knowledge, opinions, etc., may affect the case's outcome. Additionally, discovery enables the courts to obtain additional information about the subject matter of the underlying lawsuit. Discovery can also be a highly effective method of obtaining proof to support one party's position in opposition to the position of another.
The Federal Rules of Evidence govern discovery. These rules require that statements concerning any issue of potential liability or importance be admissible within the federal courts' jurisdiction. The courts attempt to uniformly establish a standard of evidence so that the jury will administer the necessary decision fairly and consistently.