Tag Archives: discovery

Something to remember when viewing court files.

Here is something to remember if you are going to the courthouse to review files.


When you take out a case file for review in Sacramento County the clerks will generally tell that you cannot remove anything from the file.  There will also be signs posted in viewing areas.  Most often I see people taking apart a file at the copying machines while the sign looms directly in front of them.  Don’t do it!

The court doesn’t want you to mess up the files and those of us who regularly go through files don’t want you to either.  The reason is that was don’t want things to end up missing or to be put back in the wrong order.  Generally, documents are entered into the files in chronological order.  In some cases, certain types of documents are placed on one side in particular (Law & Motion documents for example.   If the documents are out-of-order when you put them back in, it can really mess up an accurate review of the contents and make life more difficult for anyone who gets the file next.

In addition, files may have sealed documents.  You cannot open the sealed envelopes, even if you are a party to the case.  (I have held them up to the light in the hope that I might glimpse something really useful, but that has yet to work.)

If you are having trouble figuring out how to make copies, ask a clerk or a bike messenger.  Anyone standing behind you at the copiers who searches through files as part of their job will be glad to instruct you.  The sooner you get your business sorted out, the sooner we can take care of what we are there to do.

In the event that a document is loose and falls out of a file, just let the clerk know when you return it.  It happens and they appreciate the opportunity to fix it up.

From all of us who do this sort of thing for a living, thank you.

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Just two weeks to the class at the Learning Exchange

Just two (2) until our next class on How to Find Anything on Anyone at the Learning Exchange.


See you there.  (If you can find the classroom.)

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Pulling a Paul Drake

Back in the days of black and white television one of the biggest hits on the tube was Perry Mason.   Based on the character introduced in the the novels written by Erle Stanley Gardner, Raymond Burr played undefeated (or at least it seemed that way) attorney Perry Mason.  He was assisted by his dashing private investigator Paul Drake (played by William Hopper.)

It was a 30 minute show and as a general rule the show ended with Perry breaking down a key witness through brilliant cross-examination or Paul Drake would peek in through the courtroom doors with a missing witness or other key piece of evidence in hand.  Perry would ask for a brief recess and the Paul would cruise down the aisle to the front of the court and present Perry with goods that would turn the case in his client’s favor.

To me, that is “pulling a Paul Drake.”  I have always wanted to show up in some courthouse with the that key witness or other evidence that will blow the case wide open.  I’ve come close, but I’ve never had a moment that dramatic in my career.  In fact, it is unlikely that I ever will.  Modern rules of discovery mean that all the digging for evidence should be done before the parties go in the courtroom.  Therefore, it is highly unlikely that anything of a last-minute nature would get before a trier of fact (jury or judge.)

Just the same, when I do find some really good nugget that goes a long way toward helping my client’s case, I think about peeking in the courtroom, getting my client’s attention and then “pulling a Paul Drake.”

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