What is a Joint Discovery Plan?

A joint discovery plan is a comprehensive and formal technique and case management plan for setting up common discovery arrangements for pending related cases in federal courts. It is prepared when the plaintiffs and defendants held a conference in accordance with the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f). The conference is held to let the parties discuss the matters required by Federal Rule 26 (f), the Civil Chambers Rules, and the Court orders. Discovery in a civil case is a prerequisite step in a lawsuit in which each party investigates the facts of a case based on the civil procedure rules.

This case management plan and documentation plan is composed of these sections: Rule 26(f) Disclosures, anticipated scope of discovery, electronically stored information, privilege issues, changes to discovery limitations, other discovery and scheduling orders, witnesses the parties intend to depose, documents requested for production, discovery to enable settlement evaluation, issues implicating expert evidence, threshold legal issues for the motion for summary judgment, the procedure for claims of privilege, anticipated protective orders, and proposed schedule. 

Types of Discovery

When the plaintiff files a complaint against the defendant, it initiated a civil lawsuit and then enters a stage known as the discovery process. The discovery process is the pre-trial stage in a lawsuit during a thorough investigation of each party on the facts of a case through the rules of civil procedure. They obtained evidence from the opposing party and others while using discovery tools. 

Depositions: This method permits a party to have any witness which includes the opposing party answer questions orally and under oath. Depositions are costly because an individual should pay the court reporter for attending the deposition and transcribing the deposition if necessary and he or she should pay for one’s attorney to prepare for and attend the deposition. They are best reserved for cases in which there are substantial disputes and the parties have enough funds to take them. They are suitable for obtaining crucial information about the witness’s knowledge of the disputed facts, holding down that witness, and figuring out the limits of the witness’ knowledge so that the witness cannot provide more damaging testimony at trial without looking like a liar and observing if one can have useful admissions from that witness. These depositions can be utilized to impeach a witness at trial if they show that they are lying, biased, or overstating their knowledge. They are also beneficial when an individual’s own witness might not be available at the time of the court trial. Depositions of witnesses who are unavailable at the time of the court trial can be used in lieu of their trial appearance. Also, depositions contain oral examinations, followed by cross-examination by the opposing side. Interrogatories: These are written questions that may be asked of the other party with responses necessary to be in writing and under oath. These answers can be utilized as evidence by the other party at the court trial. There are standard interrogatories that are specified by the court rules as these standard interrogatories ask for information about the identity of the expert and lay witnesses, the compressed synopsis of their anticipated testimony, and the exhibits that the other side has that might be related to the issues in the case. Supplemental Interrogatories: These are additional interrogatories that the party and his or her attorney can specially design to the certain facts of the case. A party is limited to fifty interrogatories that include the subparts. However, if the questions asked are significant or valuable, there is some limit as to what can be asked. Supplemental interrogatories tend to have major details when they ask specific, limited questions as opposed to opinion or open-ended questions. Physical and Mental Health Examinations: These medical examinations require an explicit court order. Some examples of physical examinations are DNA paternity testing or drug and alcohol testing. A party may request and the court may order psychological evaluations in cases in which a party’s mental health influences their parenting ability. On the other hand, mental health screenings include the use of a standard set of questions that a person answers to help a healthcare provider examine for signs of a mental disorder and to learn about the mood, behavior, memory, and thinking of the person involved in the case. Studies have shown that more than 50% of all Americans will have a mental disorder at some point in their lives and their symptoms may range from mild to severe. Requests for Admissions: These require the other party to admit or deny certain facts like carefully worded questions or to admit or deny the authenticity of documents. It is often useful to have the authenticity of documents admitted before the start of the court trial so that one can check whether to call witnesses to authenticate these legal documents. There is no limit on the number of requests for admissions that can be created on the authenticity of documents. Documents prepared by one party can be utilized by the other party at the court trial. When these requests are properly used, they enable a party to investigate deeper into vital issues beyond those required to mention a cause of action. Requests for Production of Documents and Inspection: These requests are created to allow one party to seek documents from the other party. The other party should make it available for copying documents that are in his or her possession, custody, or control. So, they make sure that the documents that are not in a party’s possession but are within his or her control including banking records or medical records are made available for copying. Sometimes the way these documentation tools will be made available is by offering the party requesting the documents a release that enables that party to acquire the records from a third party. In many family court cases, the legal documents that parties have produced while living their life are the best evidence on contested issues. This rule can also be utilized to request the inspection of the land and other tangible assets. Subpoeans duces tecum: Similar to requests for production or inspection except that they may be sent to non-parties, they are beneficial for obtaining medical records, banking accounts, credit card records, and school records. They are most useful for obtaining records that a party would commonly not have in his or her custody or control, such as hotel room records that can be used as proofs for proving adultery or personnel records that can be used for proving assets, behavioral problems, or income.

How to Develop a Joint Discovery Plan

A discovery process brings to light some important details that would guide either party to delve through their respective strengths and weaknesses and their chances of litigating the case. Consider the following steps so that you can easily develop your joint discovery plan.

Step 1: Work on the Preliminary Matters

Before you draft a complaint or responsive pleading, specify the major areas in which evidentiary support for assertions in those documents will be required. Create a chart that contains the certain elements of each claim or defense asserted and determining possible evidence for individual element. Review the local rules of the court meticulously as you consult the judge’s standing order, mainly related on discovery matters, as well as all discovery rules specific to jurisdiction as you focus on the requirements of mandatory initial disclosures and rules governing the discoverability of specific categories of materials that might use to the case.

Step 2: Schedule a Meeting or Conference Call

Set up a meeting or conference call to enable discussion about the discovery procedure with the opposing counsel. Although in jurisdictions where a joint discovery plan is not mandatory, this meeting or conference gives an opportunity to build a pattern of cooperation in the discovery process. If attempts to meet or confer are rejected, the attorney who proposed the meeting will have made documentation of attempting to be reasonable in the discovery procedure because it may influence the later rulings of the presiding judge on the contentious discovery process.

Step 3: File a Comprehensive Joint Discovery Plan

If mandatory or permitted, file a joint discovery plan with the court before the initial pre-trial. Make some suggestions on the right number of interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and depositions for the case and reasonable deadlines for the conclusion of all discovery matters.

Step 4: Provide Sufficient Information

Provide enough information about the client’s past and current employees who have information related to the claims and defenses of the client. Include the contact details or the most latest contact details available from the personnel files. Comply with the mandatory disclose of documents and data compilations.

Step 5: Describe the Discovery Plan

Include these information while describing your discovery plan: responses to all the matters raised in Rule 26(f) which includes agreements relevant to electronic discovery, when and to whom the plaintiff and the defendant expects it may send interrogatories, of whom and by when the plaintiff and the defendant anticipated taking oral depositions, when the plaintiff and the defendant can assign experts and provide Rule 26(s)(2)(b) reports, and list expert depositions the plaintiff and the opposing party anticipates taking and their anticipated completion date.


What is a Joint Rule 26 F report?

Required by the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP), a Joint Rule 26 F report is a sample report and discovery plan used by parties to memorialize the results of their meetings and conferences. This document contains drafting notes with detailed essential explanations and drafting tips.

What are the basic discovery tools?

The common discovery tools used by many civil legal professionals are depositions, interrogatories, requests for admissions, requests for the production of documents, requests for inspection, and e-discovery.

What are the types of discovery methods in family court?

The types of discovery methods in family court are interrogatories, requests for the production of documents and inspection like an inspection report, requests for admissions, depositions, subpoenas duces tecum, physical examinations, and mental health examinations.

What are some common examples of discovery materials?

Some common examples of discovery materials are affidavit documents, depositions, file notes, deposition transcripts, important business documents, interview reports, interview transcripts, declarations, and videos.

What is the discovery and inspection process in a civil procedure?

The discovery and inspection process in a civil procedure takes place when the plaintiff or defendant is able to get information about the material facts of each other or documents possessed by the other parties or power associated to the issue in the case.

When you prepare a joint discovery plan, make sure that you comply with the court rules in your area and follow the instructions in developing this case management plan  such as stating where and when the parties held the meeting or conference required by Rule 26(f), describing what the case is all about, indicating the basis of federal jurisdiction, listing any expected additional parties and any anticipated interventions, and describing the proposed agreed joint discovery plan.  To fully guide you in the development of your joint discovery plans or case management plans, Sample.net offers a diverse collection of well-designed PDF document templates for legal cases such as a legal affidavit, a legal strategic plan, and a legal memo