(a) Scope of Discovery. Unless otherwise limited by the court in accordance with these rules, the scope of discovery is as follows:
(1) In General. Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter of the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the hearing if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
(2) Claims of Privilege or Protection of Trial Preparation Materials. When a party withholds information otherwise discoverable under these rules by claiming that it is privileged or subject to protection as trial preparation material, the party shall make the claim expressly and describe the nature of the document, communications, or things not produced or disclosed in a manner that, without revealing information itself privileged or protected, will allow other parties to assess the applicability of the privilege or protection.
(b) Required Disclosure.
(1) At any time after the filing of a shelter petition, a petition alleging a child to be a dependent child, or a petition for termination of parental rights, on written demand of any party, the party to whom the demand is directed shall disclose and permit inspecting, copying, testing, or photographing matters material to the cause. If the child had no living parent with intact parental rights at the time the dependency allegations arose, then the person who was serving as the legal custodian of the child at that time is entitled to obtain discovery during the pendency of a shelter or dependency petition.
(2) The following information shall be disclosed by any party on demand:
(A) The names and addresses of all persons known to have information relevant to the proof or defense of the petition’s allegations.
(B) The statement of any person furnished in compliance with the preceding paragraph. The term “statement” means a written statement made by this person and signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person, or a stenographic, mechanical, electronic, or other recording, or a transcript of it, or that is a substantially verbatim recital of an oral statement made by this person to an officer or agent of the state and recorded contemporaneously with the making of the oral statement. The court may prohibit any party from introducing in evidence the material not disclosed, to secure and maintain fairness in the just determination of the cause.
(C) Any written or recorded statement and the substance of any oral statement made by the demanding party or a person alleged to be involved in the same transaction. If the number of oral statements made to any person are so numerous that, as a practical matter, it would be impossible to list the substance of all the oral statements, then the party to whom the demand is directed will disclose that person’s identity and the fact that this person has knowledge of numerous statements. This disclosure will allow the demanding party to depose that person.
(D) Tangible papers or objects belonging to the demanding party that are to be used at the adjudicatory hearing.
(E) Reports or statements of experts, including results of physical or mental examinations and of scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons.
(3) The disclosures required by subdivision (a) of this rule shall be made within 10 days from the receipt of the demand for them. Disclosure may be made by allowing the requesting party to review the files of the party from whom discovery is requested after redaction of nondiscoverable information.
(c) Limitations on Disclosure.
(1) On application, the court may deny or partially restrict disclosure authorized by this rule if it finds there is a substantial risk to any person of physical harm, intimidation, bribery, economic reprisals, or unnecessary annoyance or embarrassment resulting from the disclosure, that outweighs any usefulness of the disclosure to the party requesting it.
(2) Disclosure shall not be required of legal research or of records, correspondence, or memoranda, to the extent that they contain the opinion, theories, or conclusions of the parties’ attorneys or members of their legal staff.
(d) Production of Documents and Things for Inspection and Other Purposes.
(1) Request; Scope. Any party may request any other party
(A) to produce and permit the party making the request, or someone acting on the requesting party’s behalf, to inspect and copy any designated documents, including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, phono-records, and other data compilations from which information can be obtained, translated, if necessary, by the party to whom the request is directed through detection devices into reasonably usable form, that constitute or contain matters within the scope of subdivision (a) and that are in the possession, custody, or control of the party to whom the request is directed; and
(B) to inspect and copy, test, or sample any tangible things that constitute or contain matters within the scope of subdivision (a) and that are in the possession, custody, or control of the party to whom the request is directed.
(2) Procedure. Without leave of court the request may be served on the petitioner after commencement of proceedings and on any other party with or after service of the summons and initial petition on that party. The request shall set forth the items to be inspected, either by individual item or category, and describe each item and category with reasonable particularity. The request shall specify a reasonable time, place, and manner of making the inspection or performing the related acts. The party to whom the request is directed shall serve a written response within 15 days after service of the request, except that a respondent may serve a response within 30 days after service of the process and initial pleading on that respondent. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. For each item or category the response shall state that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested unless the request is objected to, in which event the reasons for the objection shall be stated. If an objection is made to part of an item or category, the part shall be specified. When producing documents, the producing party shall either produce them as they are kept in the usual course of business or shall identify them to correspond with the categories in the request. The party submitting the request may move for an order under subdivision (k) concerning any objection, failure to respond to the request, or any part of it, or failure to permit inspection as requested.
(3) Persons Not Parties. This rule does not preclude an independent action against a person not a party for production of documents and things.
(4) Filing of Documents. Unless required by the court, a party shall not file any of the documents or things produced with the response. Documents or things may be filed when they should be considered by the court in determining a matter pending before the court.
(e) Production of Documents and Things Without Deposition.
(1) Request; Scope. A party may seek inspection and copying of any documents or things within the scope of subdivision (d)(1) from a person who is not a party by issuance of a subpoena directing the production of the documents or things when the requesting party does not seek to depose the custodian or other person in possession of the documents or things.
(2) Procedure. A party desiring production under this rule shall serve notice on every other party of the intent to serve a subpoena under this rule at least 5 days before the subpoena is issued if service is by delivery and 10 days before the subpoena is issued if service is by mail. The proposed subpoena shall be attached to the notice and shall state the time, place, and method for production of the documents or things, and the name and address of the person who is to produce the documents or things, if known, and if not known, a general description sufficient to identify the person or the particular class or group to which the person belongs; shall include a designation of the items to be produced; and shall state that the person who will be asked to produce the documents or things has the right to object to the production under this rule and that the person will not be required to surrender the documents or things. A copy of the notice and proposed subpoena shall not be furnished to the person on whom the subpoena is to be served. If any party serves an objection to production under this rule within 10 days of service of the notice, the documents or things shall not be produced under this rule and relief may be obtained under subdivision (g).
(3) Subpoena. If no objection is made by a party under subdivision (e)(2), an attorney of record in the action may issue a subpoena or the party desiring production shall deliver to the clerk for issuance a subpoena and a certificate of counsel or pro se party that no timely objection has been received from any party. The clerk shall issue the subpoena and deliver it to the party desiring production. The subpoena shall be identical to the copy attached to the notice, shall specify that no testimony may be taken, and shall require only production of the documents or things specified in it. The subpoena may give the recipient an option to deliver or mail legible copies of the documents or things to the party serving the subpoena. The person on whom the subpoena is served may condition the preparation of copies on the payment in advance of the reasonable costs of preparing the copies. The subpoena shall require production only in the county of the residence of the custodian or other person in possession of the documents or things or in the county where the documents or things are located or where the custodian or person in possession usually conducts business. If the person on whom the subpoena is served objects at any time before the production of the documents or things, the documents or things shall not be produced under this rule, and relief may be obtained under subdivision (g).
(4) Copies Furnished. If the subpoena is complied with by delivery or mailing of copies as provided in subdivision (e)(3), the party receiving the copies shall furnish a legible copy of each item furnished to any other party who requests it on the payment of the reasonable cost of preparing the copies.
(5) Independent Action. This rule does not affect the right of any party to bring an independent action for production of documents and things.
(f) Protective Orders. On motion by a party or by the person from whom discovery is sought, and for good cause shown, the court in which the action is pending may make any order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense that justice requires, including one or more of the following:
(1) that the discovery not be had;
(2) that the discovery may be had only on specified terms and conditions, including a designation of the time or place;
(3) that the discovery may be had only by a method of discovery other than that selected by the party seeking discovery;
(4) that certain matters not be inquired into, or that the scope of the discovery be limited to certain matters;
(5) that discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the court;
(6) that a deposition after being sealed be opened only by order of the court;
(7) that confidential research or information not be disclosed or be disclosed only in a designated way; and
(8) that the parties simultaneously file specified documents or information enclosed in sealed envelopes to be opened as directed by the court.
If the motion for a protective order is denied in whole or in part, the court may, on such terms and conditions as are just, order that any party or person provide or permit discovery.
(1) Time and Place.
(A) At any time after the filing of the petition alleging a child to be dependent or a petition for termination of parental rights, any party may take the deposition on oral examination of any person who may have information relevant to the allegations of the petition.
(B) The deposition shall be taken in a building in which the adjudicatory hearing may be held, in another place agreed on by the parties, or where the trial court may designate by special or general order. A resident of the state may be required to attend an examination only in the county in which he or she resides, is employed, or regularly transacts business in person.
(A) The party taking the deposition shall give written notice to each other party. The notice shall state the time and place the deposition is to be taken and the name of each person to be examined.
(B) Subpoenas for taking depositions shall be issued by the clerk of the court, the court, or any attorney of record for a party.
(C) After notice to the parties the court, for good cause shown, may extend or shorten the time and may change the place of taking.
(D) Except as otherwise provided by this rule, the procedure for taking the deposition, including the scope of the examination and obtaining protective orders, shall be the same as that provided by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
(3) Use of Deposition. Any deposition taken under this rule may be used at any hearing covered by these rules by any party for the following purposes:
(A) For the purpose of impeaching the testimony of the deponent as a witness.
(B) For testimonial evidence, when the deponent, whether or not a party, is unavailable to testify because of one or more of the following reasons:
(i) He or she is dead.
(ii) He or she is at a greater distance than 100 miles from the place of hearing or is out of the state, unless it appears that the absence of the witness was procured by the party offering the deposition.
(iii) The party offering the deposition has been unable to procure the attendance of the witness by subpoena.
(iv) He or she is unable to attend or testify because of age, illness, infirmity, or imprisonment.
(v) It has been shown on application and notice that such exceptional circumstances exist as to make it desirable, in the interest of justice and with due regard to the importance of presenting the testimony of witnesses orally in open court, to allow the deposition to be used.
(vi) The witness is an expert or skilled witness.
(4) Use of Part of Deposition. If only part of a deposition is offered in evidence by a party, an adverse party may require the party to introduce any other part that in fairness ought to be considered with the part introduced, and any party may introduce any other parts.
(5) Refusal to Obey Subpoena. A person who refuses to obey a subpoena served on the person for the taking of a deposition may be adjudged in contempt of the court from which the subpoena issued.
(6) Limitations on Use. Except as provided in subdivision (3), no deposition shall be used or read in evidence when the attendance of the witness can be procured. If it appears to the court that any person whose deposition has been taken has absented himself or herself by procurement, inducements, or threats by or on behalf of any party, the deposition shall not be read in evidence on behalf of that party.
(h) Perpetuating Testimony Before Action or Pending Appeal.
(1) Before Action.
(A) Petition. A person who desires to perpetuate the person’s own testimony or that of another person regarding any matter that may be cognizable in any court of this state may file a verified petition in the circuit court in the county of the residence of any expected adverse party. The petition shall be titled in the name of the petitioner and shall show:
(i) that the petitioner expects to be a party to an action cognizable in a court of Florida, but is presently unable to bring it or cause it to be brought;
(ii) the subject matter of the expected action and the person’s interest in it;
(iii) the facts that the person desires to establish by the proposed testimony and the reasons for desiring to perpetuate it;
(iv) the names or a description of the persons expected to be adverse parties and their names and addresses so far as known; and
(v) the names and addresses of the persons to be examined and the substance of the testimony expected to be elicited from each and asking for an order authorizing the petitioner to take the deposition of the persons to be examined named in the petition for the purpose of perpetuating their testimony.
(B) Notice and Service. The petitioner shall serve a notice on each person named in the petition as an expected adverse party, with a copy of the petition, stating that the petitioner will apply to the court at a time and place in the notice for an order described in the petition. At least 20 days before the date of the hearing, the notice shall be served either within or without the county in the manner provided by law for serving of summons. However, if service cannot with due diligence be made on any expected adverse party named in the petition, the court may order service by publication or otherwise and shall appoint an attorney for persons not served in the manner provided by law for service of summons. The attorney shall represent the adverse party and, if he or she is not otherwise represented, shall cross-examine the deponent.
(C) Order and Examination. If the court is satisfied that the perpetuation of the testimony may prevent a failure or delay of justice, it shall make an order designating or describing the persons whose depositions may be taken and specifying the subject matter of the examination and whether the deposition shall be taken on oral examination or written interrogatories. The deposition may then be taken in accordance with these rules and the court may make orders in accordance with the requirements of these rules. For the purpose of applying these rules to depositions for perpetuating testimony, each reference in them to the court in which the action is pending shall be deemed to refer to the court in which the petition for the deposition was filed.
(D) Use of Deposition. If a deposition to perpetuate testimony is taken under these rules, it may be used in any action involving the same subject matter subsequently brought in any court of Florida in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (g)(3).
(2) Pending Appeal. If an appeal has been taken from a judgment of any court or before the taking of an appeal if the time for it has not expired, the court in which the judgment was rendered may allow the taking of the depositions of witnesses to perpetuate their testimony for use in further proceedings in the court. In such case, the party who desires to perpetuate the testimony may move for leave to take the deposition on the same notice and service as if the action were pending in the court. The motion shall show the names and addresses of persons to be examined, the substance of the testimony expected to be elicited from each, and the reasons for perpetuating the testimony. If the court finds that the perpetuation is proper to avoid a failure or delay in justice, it may make orders as provided for by this rule and the deposition may then be taken and used in the same manner and under the same conditions as are prescribed in these rules for depositions taken in actions pending in the court.
(3) Perpetuation Action. This rule does not limit the power of a court to entertain an action to perpetuate testimony.
(i) Rules Governing Depositions of Children Under 16.
(1) The taking of a deposition of a child witness or victim under the age of 16 may be limited or precluded by the court for good cause shown.
(2) The court after proper notice to all parties and an evidentiary hearing, based on good cause shown, may set conditions for the deposition of a child under the age of 16 including:
(A) designating the place of the deposition;
(B) designating the length of time of the deposition;
(C) permitting or prohibiting the attendance of any person at the deposition;
(D) requiring the submission of questions before the examination;
(E) choosing a skilled interviewer to pose the questions;
(F) limiting the number or scope of the questions to be asked; or
(G) imposing any other conditions the court feels are necessary for the protection of the child.
(3) Good cause is shown based on, but not limited to, one or more of the following considerations:
(A) The age of the child.
(B) The nature of the allegations.
(C) The relationship between the child victim and the alleged abuser.
(D) The child has undergone previous interviews for the purposes of criminal or civil proceedings that were recorded either by videotape or some other manner of recording and the requesting party has access to the recording.
(E) The examination would adversely affect the child.
(F) The manifest best interests of the child require the limitations or restrictions.
(4) The court, in its discretion, may order the consolidation of the taking of depositions of a child under the age of 16 when the child is the victim or witness in a pending proceeding arising from similar facts or circumstances.
(j) Supplemental Discovery. If, subsequent to compliance with these rules, a party discovers additional witnesses, evidence, or material that the party would have been under a duty to disclose or produce at the time of the previous compliance, the party shall promptly disclose or produce such witnesses, evidence, or material in the same manner as required under these rules for initial discovery.
(1) If at any time during the course of the proceedings, it is brought to the attention of the court that a party has failed to comply with an applicable discovery rule or with an order issued under an applicable discovery rule, the court may:
(A) order the party to comply with the discovery or inspection of materials not previously disclosed or produced;
(B) grant a continuance;
(C) order a new hearing;
(D) prohibit the party from calling a witness not disclosed or introducing in evidence the material not disclosed; or
(E) enter an order that it deems just under the circumstances.
(2) Willful violation by counsel of an applicable discovery rule or an order issued under it may subject counsel to appropriate sanction by the court.