As part of the pre-trial discovery procedure, a set of written questions may be drawn up and sent to either the defendant or plaintiff in a legal case. These written questions are also known as interrogatories or requests for further information. The answers are required to be answered and sent back to the person who compiled them or the attorney representing that party. The responses are usually made under oath and therefore would normally be accompanied by an affidavit. Interrogatories are distinct from requests for admission which are not required to be presented under oath.
These interrogatories are designed to clarify the details surrounding a court case and also help in determining what facts may be presented if the case goes to trial. Interrogatories are used widely as part of discovery in the United States, although the exact details vary somewhat from one state to another with many states taking their cue from Federal law on discovery.
Interrogatories are usually expected to be custom designed for the particular case, although they may also be used in more than one case and generic questions may be available. There are two main sources of generic interrogatories used in just about any type of legal case. These are ‘Pattern Discovery’, which is published by West and ‘Bender’s Forms of Discovery: Interrogatories’ which is published by LexisNexis.