Discovery – Who can be deposed?

In California, some discovery devices such as  Interrogatories and Requests for Admissions can only be served on parties to a lawsuit, e.g. plaintiff and defendant.  However, the deposition is one of the more flexible tools of discovery to the extent that a deposition can be taken of a party or a non-party.

Party Depositions

A party may be a natural person, a business entity, a non-profit organization or a governmental agency.  Any and all of these may be deposed (have a deposition taken).  With a party which is not a natural person, the party must produce employees, officers, directors or other witnesses that are affiliated with the party.  If the party serving the deposition notice is not sure of the person with the requisite knowledge, the notice can specify that the “person most knowledgeable” should appear to testify.

Non-party Depositions

A non-party witness may also be deposed.  The non-party may be a witness to the events related to the litigation or even a person with knowledge as to business records.  With a non-party, the deposition notice must be served with a subpoena and cannot be simply mailed as with the notice sent to a party.

Documents

Both party and non-party deponents can be compelled to bring documents to the deposition.  The documents requested must be described with reasonable particularity in the Notice of Deposition served.

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