Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Non-filing of discovery mania

By rule and standing order in our federal court, discovery material is not to be filed.

Rule 5(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure says:

"All papers after the complaint required to be served upon a party, together with a certificate of service, must be filed with the court within a reasonable time after service, but disclosures under Rule 26 (a)(1) or (2) and the following discovery requests and responses must not be filed until they are used in the proceeding or the court orders filing:
(i) depositions,
(ii) interrogatories,
(iii) requests for documents or to permit entry upon land, and
(iv) requests for admission."

The standing orders include this one for Judge Jones ("That in civil cases, except prisoner actions, assigned to Judge James P. Jones, discovery material will not be accepted for filing by the clerk of court on or after October 1, 1996, unless filing of same is ordered by the court.") Judge Williams is arguably the exception, but I think Rule 5(d) applies to his cases as well.

Nevertheless, we have in our district the practice of filing "discovery letters," which I never do. If the discovery request itself is not to be filed, why would the cover letter be filed? Similarly, I am opposed to the filing of deposition notices and other flotsam and jetsam related to discovery unless and until the Court orders their filing, or their are part of a motion, or they are attached to some subpoena on which a return of service has to be filed. It seems to me that these papers should not be filed because they are no use to the Court and their filing is at odds with possibly the letter and certainly the policy of the rule against filing discovery material.

Am I wrong about this?

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