Superior Court Rules Table of Contents
[Editor’s note: For civil cases filed or pending in Superior Court on or after October 1, 2013, see the Rules of the Superior Court of the State of New Hampshire Applicable in Civil Actions.]
[Editor’s note: The Rules of the Superior Court of the State of New Hampshire Applicable in Criminal Cases do not apply to criminal cases pending or filed in Strafford and Cheshire counties on or after January 1, 2016. The Strafford and Cheshire County Rules of Criminal Procedure shall apply to criminal cases pending or filed on or after January 1, 2016 in Strafford and Cheshire counties.]
35. a. Discovery Methods. Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods: depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical or mental examinations; and requests for admission. Unless the Court orders otherwise, or unless otherwise provided in these rules, the frequency of use of these methods is not limited.
b. Scope of Discovery. Unless otherwise limited by order of the Court in accordance with these rules, the scope of discovery is as follows:
(1) In General. Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
When a party withholds materials or information otherwise discoverable under this rule by claiming that the same is privileged, the party shall promptly and expressly notify the opposing party of the privilege claim and, without revealing the contents or substance of the materials or information at issue, shall describe its general character with sufficient specificity as to enable other parties to assess the applicability of the privilege claim. Failure to comply with this requirement shall be deemed a waiver of any and all privileges.
(2) Trial Preparation: Materials. Subject to the provisions of subdivision b(3) of this rule, a party may obtain discovery of documents and tangible things otherwise discoverable under subdivision b(1) of this rule and prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial by or for another party or by or for that other party's representative (including his attorney, consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, or agent) only upon a showing that the party seeking discovery has substantial need of the materials in the preparation of his case and that he is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means. In ordering discovery of such materials when the required showing has been made, the Court shall protect against disclosure of the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of an attorney or other representative of a party concerning the litigation.
A party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that party. Upon request, a person not a party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that person. If the request is refused, the person may move for a court order. The provisions of Rule 59 apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion. For purposes of this paragraph, a statement previously made is (a) a written statement signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person making it, or (b) a stenographic, mechanical, electrical, or other recording, or a transcription thereof, which is a substantially verbatim recital of an oral statement by the person making it and contemporaneously recorded.
(3) Trial Preparations: Experts. Discovery of facts known and opinions held by experts, otherwise discoverable under the provisions of subdivision b(1) of this rule and acquired or developed in anticipation of litigation or for trial, may be obtained only as follows:
(a) (i) A party may through interrogatories require any other party to identify each person, whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial, to state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, and to state the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion. (ii) Upon motion, the Court may order further discovery by other means, subject to such restrictions as to scope and such provisions, pursuant to subdivision b(3)(c) of this rule, concerning fees and expenses as the Court may deem appropriate.
(b) A party may discover facts known or opinions held by an expert, who has been retained or specially employed by another party in anticipation of litigation or preparation for trial and who is not expected to be called as a witness at trial, only upon a showing of exceptional circumstances under which it is impracticable for the party seeking discovery to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means.
(c) Unless manifest injustice would result, (i) the Court shall require that the party seeking discovery pay the expert a reasonable fee for time spent in responding to discovery under subdivisions b(3)(a) and b(3)(b) of this rule, and (ii) with respect to discovery obtained under subdivision b(3)(a)(ii) of this rule, the Court may require, and with respect to discovery obtained under subdivision b(3)(b), the Court shall require the party seeking discovery to pay the other party a fair portion of the fees and expenses reasonably incurred by the latter party in obtaining facts and opinions from the expert.
c. Protective Orders. Upon motion by a party or by the person from whom discovery is sought, and for good cause shown, the Court may make any order which justice requires to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following: (1) that the discovery not be had; (2) that the discovery may be had only on specified terms and conditions, including a designation of the time or place; (3) that the discovery may be had only by a method of discovery other than that selected by the party seeking discovery; (4) that certain matters not be inquired into, or that the scope of the discovery be limited to certain matters; (5) that discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the Court; (6) that a deposition after being sealed be opened only by order of the Court; (7) that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be disclosed or be disclosed only in a designated way; (8) that the parties simultaneously file specified documents or information enclosed in sealed envelopes to be opened as directed by the Court.
If the motion for a protective order is denied in whole or in part, the Court may, on such terms and conditions as are just, order that any party or person provide or permit discovery. The provisions of Rule 59 apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.
d. Sequence and Timing of Discovery. Unless the Court upon motion, for the convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice, orders otherwise, methods of discovery may be used in any sequence and the fact that a party is conducting discovery, whether by deposition or otherwise, shall not operate to delay any other party's discovery.
e. Supplementation of Responses. A party, who has responded to a request for discovery with a response that was complete when made, is under no duty to supplement his response to include information thereafter acquired, except as follows:
(1) A party is under a duty seasonably to supplement his response with respect to any question directly addressed to (a) the identity and location of persons having knowledge of discoverable matters, and (b) the identity of each person expected to be called as an expert witness at trial, the subject matter on which he is expected to testify, and the substance of his testimony.
(2) A party is under a duty seasonably to amend a prior response if he obtains information upon the basis of which (a) he knows that the response was incorrect when made, or (b) he knows that the response, though correct when made, is no longer true.
(3) A duty to supplement responses may be imposed by order of the Court, agreement of the parties, or at any time prior to trial through new requests for supplementation of prior responses.
f. Disclosure of Expert Witnesses. Within thirty (30) days of a request by the opposing party, or in accordance with an order of the Court following a discovery conference, a party shall be required to supply a Disclosure of Expert Witness(es) as defined under Rule 702 of the Rules of Evidence, which document shall
(1) identify each person, including any party, whom the party expects to call as an expert witness at trial,
(2) provide a brief summary of the expert's education and experience relevant to his area of expertise,
(3) state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, and
(4) state a summary of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion. The party shall attach to the disclosure a copy of any expert report relating to such expert.
g. Discovery abuse; sanctions.
(1) The court may impose appropriate sanctions against a party or counsel for engaging in discovery abuse. Upon a finding that discovery abuse has occurred, the court should normally impose sanctions unless the offending party or counsel can demonstrate substantial justification for the conduct at issue or other circumstances that would make the imposition of sanctions unfair. Discovery abuse includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(a) employing a discovery method in a manner or to an extent that causes unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or undue burden or expense;
(b) employing discovery methods otherwise available which result in legal expense disproportionate to the matters at issue;
(c) making, without substantial good faith justification, an unmeritorious objection to discovery;
(d) responding to discovery in a manner which the responding party knew or should have known was misleading or evasive;
(e) producing documents or other materials in a disorganized manner or in a manner other than the form in which they are regularly kept;
(f) failing to confer with an opposing party or attorney in a good faith effort to resolve informally a dispute concerning discovery.
(2) The sanctions which may be imposed for discovery abuse include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) a monetary sanction in an amount equal to the unnecessary expenses incurred, including reasonable attorney's fees, as the result of the abusive conduct;
(b) an issue sanction that orders that designated facts be taken as established by the party who has been adversely affected by the abuse;
(c) an evidence
sanction that prohibits the offending party from introducing certain matters
(d) a terminating sanction that strikes all or part of the claims or defenses, enters full or partial judgment in favor of the plaintiff or defendant, or stays the proceeding until ordered discovery has been provided.
Superior Court Rules Table of Contents