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How are sanctions for discovery misuse calculated?

Sacramento, CA |

I'm a Pro Per Plaintiff. I may have to file a motion to compel further document production. Being that I am not an attorney, how are sanctions calculated? I don't know what amount to ask for. Or is that something at the judge's discretion?

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Attorney answers 2


The amount of sanctions is up to the discretion of the judge. In many instances, there is some relationship between the amount of sanctions and the amount of attorney's fees needlessly incurred due to the offending party's unreasonable conduct. As a pro per, you have not incurred attorney's fees. However, the court could sanction the offending party based on the money paid into the court if it believes there is an abuse of the discovery process. You don't need to worry about the exact amount to request. The court likely will come up with its own number any way (although the amount may be small compared to the situation where you have an attorney). Moreover, if the abuse continues, subsequent motions can potentially result in even harsher sanctions, such as issue sanctions or terminating sanctions. Such sanctions can have a devastating effect on the case. This is particularly the case if the court issues a discovery order and the offending party violates the court's order. Good luck.

This response is for information purpose only and does not constitute a legal advice. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Your sanctions will be based on the costs and attorney's fees you have incurred in connection with the motion. Costs will include the filing fee for the motion, photocopy costs, and other "out of pocket" expenses. If you have an attorney on a limited representation basis help you with the motion, that lawyer's fees may also be recoverable. You are not able to recover anything for your time in preparing the motion.
Your notice of motion must specify that you are asking for monetary sanctions. I believe it is better practice to put an amount of sanctions that you are requesting in the notice of motion, to satisfy any potential Due Process concerns.

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