Written by attorney Keith R Havens

Obtaining Discovery Responses in a Custody Case When Party Refuses to Respond

In the case of Rolley v. Sanford, 126 Md. App. 124, 727 A.2d 444 (1999), the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland addressed the issue of actions available to a trial court in the instance in which the question before the trial involved a determination as to the "best interests of a child" and one of the parties had failed to comply with an order compelling a party to provide discovery responses. In Rolley, the Court stated that "[w]here there exists a discovery violation ... , as always, the best interest of the child is paramount and a trial court must exhaust every available remedial step to enforce discovery before the extreme sanction of dismissal may be ordered." Id. The Court of Special Appeals suggested that the trial court hold the aggrieving party in civil contempt if she continued to fail to comply with the trial court's order. Id. It is clear that Rolley obviates the ability of a party to obtain an order barring the non-complying party from producing evidence or testimony at the custody hearing or trial. Accordingly, the party seeking discovery will need to first obtain an order compelling the other party to produce the discovery. Once the other party fails to comply with this order, the party seeking the discovery will need to file a motion for contempt. The motion should include a request that the party be incarcerated if they fail to produce the requested discovery.

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