During a criminal or civil court case, one party may require access to information privy only to the other party. As such, proceedings are undergone before a trial phase to acquire such information. Thus, a legal discovery is the pre-litigation process that involves the discovering of pertinent information relevant to the court case.
Legal discovery devices include, but are not limited to interrogatories, depositions, requests for inspection, production of documents, admission, and physical examination, and subpoenas. An interrogatory is a set of specific, written questions submitted by one party for the other to answer in writing and under oath. A deposition on the other hand is an oral version of an interrogatory, and is also called an examination before trial. The party may request the other party or a witness to orally respond under oath to questions asked by a court reporter. Requests for inspection involve a looking over of tangible items that are in the possession of one party while requests for production of documents is to acquire certain, relevant documents that are also in the possession of the other party.
Requests for admission involves the party admitting to material facts in order to avoid arguing for truth claims while a request for physical examination is done when the health of a party is at issue.
Discovery procedures may differ between state and federal systems. A federal system allows for the involved parties to proceed with discovery with little judicial oversight while this may or may not be done in state systems.