50 CFR § 221.41 - How may parties obtain discovery of information needed for the case?

§ 221.41 How may parties obtain discovery of information needed for the case?

(a) General. By agreement of the parties or with the permission of the ALJ, a party may obtain discovery of information to assist the party in preparing or presenting its case. Available methods of discovery are:

(1) Written interrogatories as provided in § 221.43;

(2) Depositions of witnesses as provided in paragraph (h) of this section; and

(3) Requests for production of designated documents or tangible things or for entry on designated land for inspection or other purposes.

(b) Criteria. Discovery may occur only as agreed to by the parties or as authorized by the ALJ during a prehearing conference or in a written order under § 221.40(g). The ALJ may authorize discovery only if the party requesting discovery demonstrates:

(1) That the discovery will not unreasonably delay the hearing process;

(2) That the information sought:

(i) Will be admissible at the hearing or appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence;

(ii) Is not already in the license proceeding record or otherwise obtainable by the party;

(iii) Is not cumulative or repetitious; and

(iv) Is not privileged or protected from disclosure by applicable law;

(3) That the scope of the discovery is not unduly burdensome;

(4) That the method to be used is the least burdensome method available;

(5) That any trade secrets or proprietary information can be adequately safeguarded; and

(6) That the standards for discovery under paragraphs (f) through (h) of this section have been met, if applicable.

(c) Motions. A party may initiate discovery:

(1) Pursuant to an agreement of the parties; or

(2) By filing a motion that:

(i) Briefly describes the proposed method(s), purpose, and scope of the discovery;

(ii) Explains how the discovery meets the criteria in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(6) of this section; and

(iii) Attaches a copy of any proposed discovery request (written interrogatories, notice of deposition, or request for production of designated documents or tangible things or for entry on designated land).

(d) Timing of motions. A party must file any discovery motion under paragraph (c)(2) of this section within 7 days after the effective date stated in the referral notice under § 221.26(c)(4), 7 CFR 1.626(c)(4), or 43 CFR 45.26(c)(4).

(e) Objections.

(1) A party must file any objections to a discovery motion or to specific portions of a proposed discovery request within 7 days after service of the motion.

(2) An objection must explain how, in the objecting party's view, the discovery sought does not meet the criteria in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(6) of this section.

(f) Materials prepared for hearing. A party generally may not obtain discovery of documents and tangible things otherwise discoverable under paragraph (b) of this section if they were prepared in anticipation of or for the hearing by or for another party's representative (including the party's attorney, expert, or consultant).

(1) If a party wants to discover such materials, it must show:

(i) That it has substantial need of the materials in preparing its own case; and

(ii) That the party is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means.

(2) In ordering discovery of such materials when the required showing has been made, the ALJ must protect against disclosure of the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of an attorney.

(g) Experts. Unless restricted by the ALJ, a party may discover any facts known or opinions held by an expert through the methods set out in paragraph (a) of this section concerning any relevant matters that are not privileged. Such discovery will be permitted only if:

(1) The expert is expected to be a witness at the hearing; or

(2) The expert is relied on by another expert who is expected to be a witness at the hearing, and the party shows:

(i) That it has a compelling need for the information; and

(ii) That it cannot practicably obtain the information by other means.

(h) Limitations on depositions.

(1) A party may depose an expert or non-expert witness only if the party shows that the witness:

(i) Will be unable to attend the hearing because of age, illness, or other incapacity; or

(ii) Is unwilling to attend the hearing voluntarily, and the party is unable to compel the witness's attendance at the hearing by subpoena.

(2) Paragraph (h)(1)(ii) of this section does not apply to any person employed by or under contract with the party seeking the deposition.

(3) A party may depose a senior Department employee only if the party shows:

(i) That the employee's testimony is necessary in order to provide significant, unprivileged information that is not available from any other source or by less burdensome means; and

(ii) That the deposition would not significantly interfere with the employee's ability to perform his or her government duties.

(4) Unless otherwise stipulated to by the parties or authorized by the ALJ upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances, a deposition is limited to 1 day of 7 hours.

(i) Completion of discovery. All discovery must be completed within 25 days after the initial prehearing conference.