Immediate Sanctions


Caroline fidgeted uncomfortably in the worn leather client chair in Art’s cluttered lawyer’s office.  “Why do we have to send him discovery anyway?”

“Well, the purpose of discovery is to avoid surprises at trial and encourage settlement,” replied Art making a steeple with his hands.  “For this reason, the scope of discovery, as set forth in MD Rule 2-402 is very broad.  We sent your husband written interrogatories and a request for documents, which are among the methods allowed by MD Rule 2-401.”

“But he hasn’t responded,” complained Caroline, brushing her dark blonde hair out of her eyes, as she reached into her purse for a cigarette and lighter.

Art silently decided not to tell his client it was a non-smoking building.  He pushed his half empty cup toward her for an ashtray.  It was cold anyway, he thought to himself.  “Yes,” he said.  “But he has 30 days, plus 3 since discovery was mailed, to either answer, object or file a motion for a protective order under MD Rule 2-403.”

“What if he doesn’t give us all we asked for?”  Caroline blew a long puff of smoke into the atmosphere of Art’s office, which was crowded with knicknacks, bric-a-bracs, bibolots, and memorabilia from past cases,  accumulated over his long career.

Art took off his silver, wire framed glasses and began to clean them with his handkerchief.  “If he fails to respond sufficiently, then I must first make good faith attempts to settle the discovery dispute with his counsel under MD Rule 2-431.  If that doesn’t work, I file a motion for an order compelling discovery under MD Rule 2-432.  If he still doesn’t respond, then I can ask for sanctions or ask for a contempt order under MD Rule 2-433.  And if he doesn’t respond at all, I can skip the order compelling discovery and ask for immediate sanctions under MD Rule 2-433.”

“And what are sanctions?” asked Caroline arching her eyebrows that looked like the tops of two question marks.

“The court can strike his pleadings, prohibit him from testifying, keep him from offering exhibits or witnesses or proof of anything that would contradict your claims or support his claims, and order him to pay your legal fees for his failure to comply with discovery.”

“Good, I like that,” said Caroline, tossing the last of her lit cigarette, as though she wished it was her soon to be ex-husband, in Art’s coffee cup where it sizzled as she walked out of his office.