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Massachusetts’ distinct out-of-state discovery laws

On Behalf of | Jan 29, 2020 | Firm News, Out-of-state Discovery - Letters Rogatory |

The United States is getting smaller. People can so easily cross borders, quickly and without hindrance, that it is no longer uncommon for litigation in one state to require discovery in another. To help simplify this process, the majority of states have adopted the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (UIDDA) in one form or another.

Not Massachusetts. To this day, the commonwealth maintains its own unique rules for these situations.

Beginning the process

In order to begin the process, Massachusetts requires an application from an interested party, or a letter of rogatory from the out-of-state court where the proceeding is occurring. Through this request, the party may ask that someone within Massachusetts:

  • Provide a statement
  • Give testimony
  • Produce documents
  • Produce other things

The Massachusetts court can then issue an order to move the process forward.

The practice and procedure

It is vital that those involved in the case understand which jurisdiction’s discovery procedure will be used. As explained in this American Bar Association piece, the Massachusetts court, in its order, will set the rules for the practice and procedure of the ensuing discovery. These rules may be based on Massachusetts law, the law of the state from which the request originated, or a combination of the two.

Because of the potentially layered situation, it’s often important for out-of-state parties seeking discovery in Massachusetts to consult with local counsel. This can help ensure all proper rules are followed, and your case proceeds as smoothly as possible.