DISCOVERABILITY OF WITNESS STATEMENTS
Witness interviews are an important part of the investigation by attorneys or their staff in the evaluation and presentation of evidence. Generally, witness statements will be protected from disclosure to the adverse party if the material discovered reveals an attorney’s impression, conclusions, opinions, or legal research. Code of Civil Procedure §2018.030 sets forth the “work product” doctrine allowing attorneys to prepare case(s) while maintaining the privacy and integrity of their efforts.
The California Supreme Court in Coito v. Superior Court, 54 Cal.4th 480 (2012) concluded that witness’s statements obtained as a result of an interview conducted by an attorney or by the attorney’s agent at the attorney’s behest, constitute work product. If the attorney objects to the production of these statements, there must be a showing that disclosure would reveal the attorney’s “impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal research or theories.”
Work product extends to expert consultants, employees and agents of the attorney….
but what about statements obtained by the clients themselves “in anticipation of litigation?” Time will tell, but the concept of “in anticipation of litigation” is the key to the protection of clients’ work product.