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How do I object when I do not want to turn over a document?

If you receive a discovery demand that requests documents that you do not want to provide, there may be ways to avoid turning those documents over. You cannot destroy the documents because that could result in serious consequences for you and for your case. You can write back to the person making the request and explain why you are objecting. You must have a valid reason to object to giving the other party the documents. Some valid reasons are:

  • the requested document is not relevant to the case;
  • the documents are protected by a “privilege”—for example, letters back and forth to your attorney, or your psychiatrist’s notes; or
  • the request is overbroad and not specific enough to provide documents relevant to the case. In other words, the request will produce documents that are well beyond the scope of the case and are not relevant.

If you object to a discovery request, generally you have to let the other side know that you are not giving him/her documents that s/he has asked for. The other party might not respond, or s/he could file a “motion to compel discovery.” A motion to compel discovery is a written request to the judge in which the party seeking discovery asks the judge to issue an order requiring that the other party turns over the requested documents by a certain date or face certain consequences.