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This is Stewart Albertson with Albertson & Davidson and I want to talk to you about a fantastic device that we’re starting to use in our cases called the Informal Discovery Conference.  We call these IDCs for short.  What is an Informal Discovery Conference?  What an IDC is is where we’ve asked an opposing counsel to give us written discovery responses to discovery that we’ve sent to them and they’ve refused to give us responses that we believe we’re entitled to under California law.

So we can go to all the work of filing a Motion to Compel, doing all the Meet and Confer process that you’re required to do prior to filing that Motion to Compel.  It’s a tedious task.  It takes a lot of hours.  It’s complex.  Or, we can ask the court to set an IDC.  An IDC is where the court sets up an informal discussion between the lawyers and the judge to see if we can come to a resolution of the impasse we’re having in the discovery fight.  These are fantastic.  We’ve been able to do a couple of these so far since the law was passed, or became effective January 1, 2018 that permits IDCs.  I believe it’s under CCP 2016.080.  If you look there, it gives you all the rules for IDCs.

There’s one judge in Los Angeles that’s actually made this a standing order in her courtroom.  You cannot bring a Motion to Compel unless you’ve done an IDC first.  So what happens at the IDC?  Both lawyers show up, the judge is there.  Some judges hold them in chambers, some judges hold them from the bench.  And we tell the judge why we’re entitled to the discovery we’ve asked for.  The opposing counsel says why we’re not entitled to the discovery.  And the judge, based on his or her experience of being a judge and their experience from they were trial lawyers, they will give an opinion.  It is not an Order.  They will give an opinion.  They’ll tell you their gut reaction to how they would rule on this if we were to bring a Motion to Compel.  Well, changes are, that judge is going to tell you exactly how they would rule on this if you do bring a Motion to Compel, so you got to listen carefully.  If the judge says you’re not entitled to that discovery, move on.  If the judge says you are entitled to that discovery, more than likely, the other side is going to agree at that IDC to go ahead and give you the discovery you’ve been asking for.

We are so hopeful, as trial litigators in California that these IDCs become the norm.  We would love to be able to meet with the judge, have an informal discussion and, with that judge, with the opposing counsel there saying why we’re entitled to the discovery.  Chances are, with the judge there telling us his or her opinion as to whether we have a right to that discovery, we think generally we will have a right to that discovery, the other side will comply and we won’t have to go through the long process of Motions to Compel.  We will report back and let you know how we’re doing with the IDCs.