Which documents can be mailed to the opponent, which must be handed to him personally? Also, which must be copied to the court?

Asked over 1 year ago - Los Angeles, CA

Must I have every document , including answers to interrogatories and such , delivered by a process server ( or sheriff ) ? That can get expensive . Which things can I mail , and which must I get hand - delivered ? Also , which must be copied to the court ? I assume normal correspondence needn't be copied to the court or hand - delivered . I'd guess motions do , but I'm not sure . The immediate issue is discovery documents . And my answer to his cross - complaint . Where is all this written down ? Anywhere ?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Robin Mashal

    Contributor Level 19


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . Disclaimer: The materials provided below are informational and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

    Plaintiff needs to have summons and complaint served on defendant by a process server. If defendant "appears" in the action by filing a "responsive pleading" (e.g. answer, demurrer, motion to strike), then the parties will serve all pleadings, motions and discovery materials on each other by mail. (Parties to the action cannot make service of process, and as well cannot serve items by mail, so they will need third parties to do the service for them). Pleadings and motion are filed with the Court clerk. Discovery items (interrogatories, requests for admissions, requests for production, deposition notices) are served on all parties to the action, but do NOT get filed with the Court clerk. Be sure to consult your own attorney to protect your legal rights.

  2. Michael Raymond Daymude


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Wow. And you're trying to represent yourself? Any documents that are filed with the court must be served on all other parties to the lawsuit prior to filing. In most instances they can be served by mail. You cannot, however, prepare the proof of service if you are a party. The documents must be served by someone else.

    Requests to and responses to discovery are not generally filed with the court although they are served on other parties. The exception is when a discovery motion is made and copies are attached to the motion as an exhibit.

    How documents are served, i.e., by mail, personal delivery, or overnight delivery, usually depends on particularized notice requirements. For example, an opposition to a motion typically would be served by overnight delivery to assure timely receipt by opposing counsel as would a reply.

    I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for... more
  3. William J Mertens

    Contributor Level 11
    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . I am licensed in MD and DC but not CA and so can only give a general answer and qualify it - before I start - by saying that things can vary from court to court even within a given jurisdiction.

    But here is the general answer: In every court where I have practiced (and I've practiced outside my own jurisdictions many times by pro hac, or special, limited admission to the bar of a court), discovery demands and responses to discovery are not filed in court. Traditionally and by most court rules, they are served by personal mail, and that service is adequate unless you have some special concern that your opponent will deny receiving something that you've actually sent. For the past several years, I've usually also sent copies of such material, after scanning it, as attachments to email unless it's too voluminous, e.g., a large collection of documents produced in discovery.

    Motions and formal pleadings (e.g., answers to complaints) do need to be filed in court as do responses to motions. Mailing is OK, but the date of filing is the date the material is received, not the date it is mailed. (I'm not speaking now of appellate briefs.) Increasingly, the federal courts and some state courts are mandating filing electronically, via .pdf files uploaded to the court's website. But in my experience, electronic filing is limited to attorneys; pro se litigants in jurisdictions that I'm familiar with do not have access to courts' electronic filing systems.

    You may get a more precise and definitive answer if you identify the specific court you're concerned about. From your question, I assume that you have a pro se matter pending. Or maybe you're thinking of filing a pro se case.

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.


Ask now

27,622 answers this week

3,132 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

27,622 answers this week

3,132 attorneys answering