Dependent and Neglect Proceedings
(a) Each court shall ensure that the parties in dependent and neglect proceedings have access to information which would be available in circuit court.
(b) Parties shall attempt to achieve any necessary discovery informally, in order to avoid undue expense and delay in the resolution of cases. Only when such attempts have failed, discovery may be sought and effectuated in accordance with the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure without a court order.
(c) Leave to obtain discovery pursuant to the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure for reasons other than a failed attempt at informal discovery shall be freely given by the court when justice so requires.
(d) Upon motion of a party or upon the court’s own initiative, the court may order that the discovery be completed by a certain date.
(e) Any motion to compel discovery, motion to quash, motion for protective order, or other discovery related motion shall:
(1) quote verbatim the interrogatory, request, question, or subpoena at issue, or be accompanied by a copy of the interrogatory, request, subpoena, or excerpt of a deposition which shows the question and objection or response, if applicable;
(2) state the reason or reasons supporting the motion; and
(3) be accompanied by a statement certifying that the moving party or counsel has made a good faith effort to resolve by agreement the issues raised and that agreement has not been achieved. Such effort shall be set forth with particularity in the statement.
(f) The court shall decide any motion relating to discovery in accordance with the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.
(g) A child shall be required to respond to discovery requests only if the child is the petitioner or a respondent to the action.
(h) A guardian ad litem shall not testify at a deposition.
(i) Except as provided in subdivision (e) above, discovery materials shall not be filed with the court.
Advisory Commission Comments.
This rule permits parties to utilize the discovery rules found in the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure if: (1) an attempt to conduct informal discovery fails; or (2) if the party has obtained permission in a court order. A party may utilize subdivision (c) of this rule only when informal discovery is not possible or practical, e.g., the party may need to depose a non-party witness prior to trial. When attempts at informal discovery fail or are at an impasse, the parties should then presume that they are participating in formal discovery.
In order to reduce the cost of depositions, attorneys and parties should note that Rule 30.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure allows for non-stenographic recording and for telephone depositions. Likewise, Rule 26.03 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure permits the court to issue a protective order
when a party seeks to limit discovery in order to avoid undue burden or expense, as well as for other reasons.
The Commission recognizes that formal discovery could potentially lengthen the time it takes to set and conclude dependent and neglect proceedings. Courts, attorneys, and parties should note that subdivision (d) permits a court ordered deadline for the completion of discovery. The Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure allow the court to shorten deadlines for responding to discovery requests. Courts are encouraged to conduct scheduling conferences and issue scheduling orders as permitted under Rule 111.