Responding to requests for production of documents in California litigation

Responding to requests for production of documents in California litigation is the topic of this blog post.

The rules governing requests for production of documents are found in Code of Civil Procedure § 2031.010, et seq.

Code of Civil Procedure § 2031.210 states in part that, “(a) The party to whom a demand for inspection, copying, testing, or sampling has been directed shall respond separately to each item or category of item by any of the following: (1) A statement that the party will comply with the particular demand for inspection, copying, testing, or sampling by the date set for the inspection, copying, testing, or sampling pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 2031.030 and any related activities. (2) A representation that the party lacks the ability to comply with the demand for inspection, copying, testing, or sampling of a particular item or category of item. (3) An objection to the particular demand for inspection, copying, testing, or sampling.”

Code of Civil Procedure § 2033.220 states that, “A statement that the party to whom a demand for inspection, copying, testing, or sampling has been directed will comply with the particular demand shall state that the production, inspection, copying, testing, or sampling, and related activity demanded, will be allowed either in whole or in part, and that all documents or things in the demanded category that are in the possession, custody, or control of that party and to which no objection is being made will be included in the production.”

Code of Civil Procedure § 2031.230 states that, “A representation of inability to comply with the particular demand for inspection, copying, testing, or sampling shall affirm that a diligent search and a reasonable inquiry has been made in an effort to comply with that demand. This statement shall also specify whether the inability to comply is because the particular item or category has never existed, has been destroyed, has been lost, misplaced, or stolen, or has never been, or is no longer, in the possession, custody, or control of the responding party. The statement shall set forth the name and address of any natural person or organization known or believed by that party to have possession, custody, or control of that item or category of item.”

In responding to a request for production,  the responding party should take care in framing their response and should ensure that any response complies with Code of Civil Procedure §§ 2031.210 through 2031.300.  This is particularly true when the documents requested cannot be located. A vague response such as “unable to locate” or something similar will not suffice.

There is no numerical limit to the number of requests but a party served with excessive requests may seek leave of court to limit the number of requests. And unlike special interrogatories and requests for admission there are no format restrictions.

Any objections to a request for production should clearly set forth the specific ground for the objection, and if only part of the request is objectionable, the remainder of the request must be responded to. See Code of Civil Procedure § 2031.240.

The responses must be verified, and must be served on the requesting party within thirty (30) days after service of the requests for production of documents if they were personally served, or within thirty five (35) days if the requests were served by mail. Note that these time limits do NOT apply to unlawful detainer actions which are five (5) days if the requests were personally served or ten (10) days if the requests were served by mail.

Attorneys or parties to civil litigation in California who wish to purchase sample responses to requests for production of documents sold by the author for use in an unlimited civil case can see below.

The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995. If you are in need of assistance with any California or Federal litigation matters, Mr. Burman is available on a freelance basis. Mr. Burman may be contacted by e-mail at DivParalgl@yahoo.com for more information. He accepts payments through PayPal which means that you can pay using most credit or debit cards.

Subscribe to his weekly newsletter with legal tips and tricks for California. http://www.legaldocspro.net/newsletter.htm

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