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Organizing Discovery

For discovery to be useful in a case, it must be organized. One effective way to organize discovery is with an issue table. Issue tables are a way to keep track of the main issues, the elements of the claims and defenses, and the relevant evidence.

Issue tables are best explained with an example, so here’s a sample issue table designed for a simple negligence case. Of course, the issues you include in your table will depend on the facts and law governing your particular case.

Always review your issue tables frequently and revise them as necessary; when you learn about new issues and facts, update your tables. And depending on the nature and complexity of your case, you may decide to have separate tables for each cause of action or defense. In some cases, you may decide to add a column for subissues.

ISSUE TABLE

__________ Discovery Cutoff

__________ Discovery Motion Deadline

__________ Trial Date

CLAIM: NEGLIGENCE

Issue

Plaintiff’s Evidence

Defendant’s Evidence

Standard of Care

   
     

Duty

   
     

Breach

   
     

Injury

   
     

Causation

   
     
 

DEFENSE: CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE

Issue

Plaintiff’s Evidence

Defendant’s Evidence

Damages

   
     

Plaintiff’s Negligence

   
     

Causation

   
     
 

If you found this sample helpful, you’ll love all the other discovery letters, checklists, and tables in CEB’s Creating Your Discovery Plan. For comprehensive coverage of all discovery issues, turn to CEB’s California Civil Discovery Practice.

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This material is reproduced from Julie Brook’s blog entry, Organizing Discovery, on the CEB Blog May 24, 2013. Copyright 2013 by the Regents of the University of California. Reproduced with permission of Continuing Education of the Bar - California. For information about CEB publications, telephone toll free 1-800-CEB-3444 or visit our Web site: CEB.com.

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