Special interrogatories in California evictions

Special interrogatories in California evictions are the topic of this blog post.  

Special interrogatories in California evictions are an excellent tool in which you can request that the plaintiff state in detail the facts, witnesses and documents on which the contentions of the complaint of plaintiff are based.

If you want my personal opinion a defendant in any contested eviction, especially an eviction after a foreclosure sale in California needs to propound some special interrogatories to the plaintiff.

Do not assume as many defendants and even some attorneys do that the official Judicial Council Form Interrogatories designed for use in evictions cover “almost everything” because the plain and simple fact is that they do not.

I would be the first person to agree that the official Judicial Council Form Interrogatories for a California eviction are quite detailed but the plain and simple fact is that they do not cover certain topics such as are commonly found in evictions after a foreclosure sale in California or even a complicated commercial eviction case.

The statutes that govern special interrogatories in California evictions are found in Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.010, et seq.

Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.010 states that, “(a) Any party may obtain discovery within the scope delimited by Chapters 2 (commencing with Section 2017.010) and 3 (commencing with Section 2017.710), and subject to the restrictions set forth in Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 2019.010), by propounding to any other party to the action written interrogatories to be answered under oath. (b) An interrogatory may relate to whether another party is making a certain contention, or to the facts, witnesses, and writings on which a contention is based. An interrogatory is not objectionable because an answer to it involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact, or would be based on information obtained or legal theories developed in anticipation of litigation or in preparation for trial.”

California law states that a defendant in an eviction may propound special interrogatories at any time, however a plaintiff may not do so until at least five (5) days have passed since service of the summons on the defendant, or the general appearance by the defendant, whichever occurs first. See Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.020(c).

I will now discuss some of the very important statutory restrictions that you must follow when you are drafting special interrogatories in California evictions.

The first statutory restriction that you absolutely must be aware of is the restriction on the numerical limit of special interrogatories. There is a numerical limit of thirty five (35) on the number of special interrogatories that may be propounded to another party. However if a supporting declaration stating that any additional interrogatories are warranted due to the complexity of the case and other certain factors is attached, any party may propound more additional special interrogatories. See Code of Civil Procedure §§ 2030.030 and 2030.050.

The second statutory restriction that you must be aware of are the restrictions on the format of the special interrogatories. No specially prepared interrogatory in California can contain subparts, or a compound, conjunctive or disjunctive question. See Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.060.  In other words you cannot draft a special interrogatory that contains part a, b, c, etc., nor can you draft one that contains a question with more than one part, or the word “and” which is conjunctive, it also cannot contain the word “or” which is disjunctive. Although many special interrogatories do violate these format rules I will warn you right now that if you do use that type of format you run the risk of the responding party interposing objections to the interrogatories on those grounds.

Depositions are a vital tool but they do have one important limitation that special interrogatories do not have. The important limitation is the fact that you cannot ask someone in a deposition to state all facts, list all witnesses and identify all documents that support or pertain to any particular contention in that party's pleadings, although that information is discoverable when sought by written interrogatory. Rifkind v. Superior Court (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 1255, 1257

Drafting special interrogatories in California evictions is also much cheaper than taking a deposition.

California law is also settled that the scope of discovery is very broad. Any doubts will be applied liberally in favor of discovery.

These rules are applied liberally in favor of discovery. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (1982) 31 Cal.3d 785, 790, and (contrary to popular belief), fishing expeditions are permissible in some cases. Greyhound Corp. v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 355, 385, (“although fishing may be improper or abused in some cases, that "is not of itself an indictment of the fishing expedition per se”.)

Sample special interrogatories in California evictions for sale.

Attorneys or parties in California that would like to view a portion of sample special interrogatories for a California eviction which are 17 pages and include brief instructions, sample interrogatories, declaration for additional discovery and proof of service by mail sold by the author can see below.

Sample Special Interrogatories for Eviction in California by Stan Burman on Scribd

 

The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, has collected California judgments since 1992, and is a freelance paralegal that has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.

For licensed attorneys and law firms that need assistance with any California or Federal litigation matters, Mr.  Burman is available on a freelance basis. Mr. Burman may be contacted by e-mail at DivParalgl@yahoo.com for more information. He accepts payments through PayPal which means that you can pay using most credit or debit cards.

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DISCLAIMER:

Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.