Massachusetts law about discovery

Laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on discovery law.

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Table of Contents

The scope of discovery

"Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." — Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 26(b)(1).

Discovery tools

Interrogatories

"[I]nterrogatories are written questions propounded to a party designed to elicit information useful in the prosecution or defense of a suit. The responding party must sign answers to interrogatories under the pains and penalties of perjury; therefore, the signed answers are the equivalent of sworn testimony given under oath." — Massachusetts Discovery Practice, s. 10.1.

Depositions

"A deposition is like testimony in court--under oath--but it occurs before trial, outside the courtroom, and without a judge or jury present. While depositions have a number of uses, parties take depositions primarily in the hope of uncovering information that supports their legal claims and undermines the other side's legal claims." — Nolo's Deposition Handbook, p. 2.

Requests for admissions

"Written requests for admission . . . provide parties with a method by which admissions of facts may be obtained and used in support of, or in opposition to, summary judgment motions or at trial." — Massachusetts Practice v.49A (Discovery), s. 10:1.

Requests for production (document requests)

A "written request that another party provide specified documents or other tangible things for inspection and copying." Black's Law dictionary. A request for production "is focused on the discovery of tangible (rather than testimonial) evidence and provides for the discovery of all types of tangible evidence, such as documents, photographs, electronic data, or other objects relevant to the litigation." — Massachusetts Practice v.49 (Discovery), s. 6:1.

Requests for permission to enter upon land

Mass. R. Civ. P. 34 "allows you to request an opportunity to enter upon land in the possession or control of another party so that you may test, photograph, sample, or otherwise inspect relevant conditions, objects, or operations on the premises." — Massachusetts Discovery Practice, s. 11.1.

Physical and mental examinations

"In many civil actions, the medical status of a party is at issue. This may be because the extent of an ongoing injury is unresolved, a party is seeking damages for mental injury, or the nature of the injury is in dispute. In order to allow the parties a fair opportunity to explore these issues, the rules of discovery permit the physical and mental examinations of individuals, although with some significant limitations." — Massachusetts Discovery Practice, s. 14.1.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.233, §§ 24-63 Witnesses and evidence

MGL c.233, § 79G Evidence: medical and hospital services

Court rules

Superior Court

District/Municipal Court

Probate and Family Court

Housing Court

Juvenile Court

Land Court

Forms

Forms and sample letters, Mass. Legal Help.
Sample forms for use in a debt collection suit but can be edited for use in other types of cases. Includes interrogatories, request for admissions, and request for production of documents.

Selected cases

Web sources

Discovery: an overview, The Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School.
A brief explanation of the discovery process. Focus is on the Federal Rules, but much of the information applies to states such as Massachusetts as well.

Discovery: representing yourself in an eviction case, Mass. Law Reform Institute, revised January 2022.
Booklet with forms for a tenant to use to obtain discovery during an eviction case.

Family law advocacy for low and moderate income litigants, 3rd ed., MCLE, 2018.
Chapter 2: Overview of probate and family court, Discovery, page 19 with sample interrogatories and request for production of documents in family law cases.

Representing yourself in a civil case part VII: proceeding with a civil case, Mass. Trial Court.
Information about time standards and deadlines, case management conferences, discovery, and pre-trial conferences.

Print sources

With forms 

Without forms

Contact for Massachusetts law about discovery

Last updated: September 6, 2023

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