From LegalLanding

Discovery is a formal investigation that is controlled by court rules (the governing laws of civil procedure for the specific jurisdiction), and is conducted before trial by both parties. Discovery allows each party to question the other parties, and sometimes witnesses. The most common types of discovery are: interrogatories, depositions, requests for admissions, and requests to produce documents. They are, of course, more types of discovery devices to obtain evidence, such as a subpoena. Discovery allows parties to assess the strength or weakness of an opponent's case, in order to support settlement talks and also to be sure that the parties have as much information as possible for trial. Discovery is also present in criminal cases, in which by law the prosecutor must turn over to the defense any witness statements and any evidence that might tend to exonerate the defendant. Depending on the rules of the court, the defendant may also be required to give evidence to the prosecutor.

Federal Discovery

Discovery is mostly performed by the litigating parties (generally, their lawyers, and more specifically law clerks and paralegals), with relatively minimal judicial oversight. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure guide discovery in the U.S. federal court system. Most state courts follow a similar version based upon the FRCP.

See Also