Request for Production in United States District Court–At A Glance

Use this At A Glance Guide to learn the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that govern requests for production in the United States District Courts. For more detailed information, including local rules, on requests for production in a specific United States District Court, please see the SmartRules United States District Court Requests for Production Guide for the court where your action is pending.

Timing:

It is accepted practice that parties propound discovery requests after the early meeting of counsel required by Rule 26(f). Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 33 (interrogatories), 34 (requests for production) and 36 (requests for admission), amended effective 12/01/07, no longer explicitly provide that discovery may not be propounded until after the Rule 26(f) meeting.

The court must set a discovery cut-off date. FRCP 16(b)(3)(A)(amended 12/01/07).

Unless by mutual agreement, the inspection may not be scheduled for a time sooner than thirty (30) days after the request is served, if personally served, and not sooner than thirty-three (33) days after service by mail. FRCP 34(b)(2)(A)(amended 12/01/07); FRCP 6(d)(amended 12/01/07). 

The time to respond may be shortened or extended as directed by the court, or agreed to in writing by the parties. FRCP 36(a)(3)(amended 12/01/07).

Parties may extend or shorten discovery deadlines by agreement, except that where an extension would interfere with any time set for completion of discovery, hearing of a motion, or trial, the agreement requires approval of the court. FRCP 29 (amended 12/01/07).

Request for Production Rules:

A Rule 34 request may be served on any party to the action. FRCP 34(a)(amended 12/01/07).

As provided in Rule 45, a nonparty may be compelled to produce documents and tangible things or to permit an inspection. FRCP 34(c)(amended 12/01/07).

A Rule 34 request can include a request to produce and permit the requesting party or its representative to inspect, copy, test, or sample the following items in the responding party’s possession, custody, or control:

Any designated documents or electronically stored information – including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations – stored in any medium from which information can be obtained either directly or, if necessary, after translation by the responding party into a reasonably usable form; or

Any designated tangible things; or

To permit entry onto designated land or other property possessed or controlled by the responding party, so that the requesting party may inspect, measure, survey, photograph, test, or sample the property or any designated object or operation on it. FRCP 34(a)(amended 12/01/07).

A Rule 34 request must set forth a reasonable time, place and manner for the inspection to take place. FRCP 34(b)(1)(B)(amended 12/01/07).

The request may specify the form or forms in which electronically stored information is to be produced. FRCP 34(b)(1)(C)(amended 12/01/07).

A response may include an objection to the requested form or forms for producing electronically stored information. If objection is made to the requested form or forms of producing electronically stored information–or if no form was specified in the request–the responding party must state the form or forms it intends to use. FRCP 34(b)(2)(D)(amended 12/01/07).

Unless otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court, these procedures apply to producing documents or electronically stored information:

(i) A party must produce documents as they are kept in the usual course of business or must organize and label them to correspond to the categories in the request;

(ii) If a request does not specify a form for producing electronically stored information, a party must produce it in a form or forms in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a reasonably usable form or forms; and

(iii) A party need not produce the same electronically stored information in more than one form. FRCP 34(b)(2)(E)(amended 12/01/07).

Unless by mutual agreement, the inspection may not be scheduled for a time sooner than thirty (30) days after the request is served, if personally served, and not sooner than thirty-three (33) days after service by mail. FRCP 34(b)(2)(A)(amended 12/01/07); FRCP 6(e).

The following discovery requests and responses must not be filed until they are used in the proceeding or the court orders filing: (i) depositions, (ii) interrogatories, (iii) requests for documents or to permit entry upon land, and (iv) requests for admission. FRCP 5(d)(amended 12/01/07).

The propounding party must serve the responding party, and all other parties who have appeared in the action, with the request for production. FRCP 34(a)(amended 12/01/07); FRCP 5(a)(amended 12/01/07).

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