What Are Requests for Production of Documents?

I am in a lawsuit and the other side wants me to give them documents.  I don’t want to share my evidence with them.   Can they make me turn over my documents before trial?

Yes.  The Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure have a special rule (Rule 34) that permits one side in litigation to ask the other side for documents that are "reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence."  Practically, this means that one side to a lawsuit can ask the other side for anything reasonably related to the case.  

If you don’t turn over requested information, you risk being sanctioned by the court.  If you fail to turn over information that is helpful to you and you later try to use that document at trial, the judge can exclude it from evidence as if it never existed.   Finally, it is possible that for a judge to dismiss your lawsuit (or order that the other side wins) if he or she finds that your failure to produce requested documents was willful.

Therefore, if your opponent asks for information, you should give it to your attorney and let the attorney decide whether the law requires that it be turned over to your opponent.