Discovery tools: why not use them?

 Posted By: je froilan m. clerigo

A judge in Pasig City commended a lawyer in our firm for serving written interrogatories on the defendants as soon as the answer to our complaint was filed. He said that he would like to see more lawyers using this tool (and the other modes of discovery) in preparing for cases.

On the other hand, our associate was even teased by the other side's attorney about her still finding time to prepare the interrogatories. She told me that what she did not tell the other lawyer was that the written interrogatories were already prepared long before they were actually served on him.

The judge also pointed out that he, in fact, earlier ordered both parties to avail of discovery modes because this was what the Supreme Court required of judges in A.M. No. 03-1-09-SC (July 13, 2004), setting forth the guidelines in pre-trial and use of deposition-discovery measures.

While discovery is already a routine exercise in other countries, it is rarely used here in the Philippines. The judge said that this is a shame because discovery tools will immensely help him in defining the case's issues, laying out the facts that are both undisputed and truly disputed, and encouraging the parties to settle.

By the way, we never got the answers to our interrogatories in this case at all. The defendant settled with our client after the court implicitly made it clear to the defense lawyer that he will require his clients to answer it, or else they suffer the consequences. Significantly, going off-the-record, the attorney for the defense said that he does not want his clients to answer the interrogatories because doing so will hurt his case. Apparently, if his clients truthfully answer the interrogatories, it would spell defeat for his case.

Why not help our judges by using these tools of discovery often?