An Introduction to the Discovery Process in District and Circuit Courts

In a court of law, the facts of a case are weighed, then a decision regarding them is made based on applicable laws. Discovery is a step in the legal process that ensures that all of the evidence each party will use at trial, is shared with the other side, so both parties can fully prepare for trial with all relevant information. The general process is the same in both district and circuit court. However, the scope and depth of the inquiry, as well as the timeline for the discovery process, differs between the two. Knowing what to expect as you head through the legal process can help set your mind at ease and help assure the best outcome at every stage.

Discovery in District Court

Maryland’s District Court is where all civil cases for claims under $5,000 are heard. For claims that are between $5,000 and $30,000, District Court shares jurisdiction with Circuit Court. It is also the venue for landlord and tenant disagreements and replevin actions. Cases in District Court are heard by a judge; there is no jury in District Court. The cases that are heard in District Court are typically less complex than those that go to Circuit Court.

There is no discovery in District Court for claims less than $5,000 and in Landlord/Tenant court. The discovery process in District Court is much more limited than in Circuit Court. Each party can only ask up to 15 interrogatories, which can include answers to specific questions regarding the claim or defenses of a party. In some cases, interrogatories take the form of pre-printed forms. In others, special interrogatories will be prepared, asking specific questions that apply to a case. Interrogatory questions, also include producing documents that are relevant to the case and will be introduced at trial. Depositions are not frequently a part of District Court cases.

Discovery in Circuit Court

Circuit Courts are the venue for all family law cases, as well as more serious civil court cases. Cases with claims of $30,000 or more, must be heard in Circuit Court. In Circuit Court, cases can be heard by either a judge or a jury. There are Circuit Courts in each of Maryland’s 23 counties. This is also where District Court cases go if the judgments are appealed.

Discovery in Circuit Court is a more in-depth and time-consuming process. In Circuit Court, a litigant can ask up to 30 interrogatories and an unlimited number of Requests for Documents. Litigants can also ask for Requests for Admissions, in which you ask the other side to admit or deny certain claims and if the questions are not answered within thirty (30) days, then they are deemed admitted. In Circuit Court, litigants can also take depositions of the opposing party or witnesses. Depositions permit a party to ask questions under oath of the party or witnesses and the deposition is recorded and transcribed by a Court Reporter. In some cases, a deposition can be completed in an hour, whereas in other cases, they take multiple hours.

The Guidance You Need Throughout Civil Litigation

Whether your case is likely to be heard in District Court or Circuit Court, it is vital to have qualified legal counsel at your side. Rebekah Lusk is a skilled and knowledgeable attorney with years of experience in these and other venues. She can ensure that you have the effective representation you need every step of the way.

Are you looking for legal representation in District Court or Circuit Court? Get in touch with Lusk Law LLC to learn how we can help. We are your advocates for life’s obstacles and opportunities.

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