(650) 735-2436   (209) 643-2436

California and New York Civil Discovery: Response Times

This is my second post on the topic of Civil Discovery in legal matters. In my first post, I went over the scope of civil discovery under California law, New York law, as well as Federal law. I’m sticking with that format in this post and the topic of Response Times.

A Response Time is, as the name might imply, the time period within which the party who has received a request for evidence or information has to provide that evidence or information. Again, the precise time period that applies to your particular situation is going to depend very much on the law that applies to your case. As you’ll hopefully see below, it’s extremely dangerous to make assumptions when it comes to any sort of discovery.

I’ll illustrate this using a common form of written discovery called a Request for Admission.


Under California state law, the Response Time for a Request for Admission is described in Section 2033.250 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, which states:

“Within 30 days after service of requests for admission, the party to whom the requests are directed shall serve the original of the response to them on the requesting party, and a copy of the response on all other parties who have appeared, unless on motion of the requesting party the court has shortened the time for response, or unless on motion of the responding party the court has extended the time for response.”

As the bolded and underlined part indicates, the Response Time is 30 days.

Specifically, this is 30 calendar days. This is an extremely important distinction because calendar days includes holidays, weekends, etc. Weekdays or court days, obviously, do not. Because of its extreme importance, many California statutes naturally make this distinction extremely vague and simply refer to “days” when the intention is actually “calendar days”. If you’re curious on the law for this, it’s in Section 12 of the California Code of Procedure as well as California Rule of Court 1.10(a). The former of these states:

“The time in which any act provided by law is to be done is computed by excluding the first day, and including the last, unless the last day is a holiday, and then it is also excluded.”

There is no mention that weekends, holidays, etc. are automatically excluded, unless they happen to occur on the final day. In those situations. additional rules apply. I’m not going to go over those additional rules here, but they are in Sections 12a, 12b, and 12c of California’s Code of Civil Procedure if you want to look them up.

New York

Requests for Admission are also allowed under New York law, specifically Section 3123 of New York’s Civil Practice Law and Rules. The Response Time to Requests for Admission under New York law is described in Section 3123(a), which states in relevant part:

“Each of the matters of which an admission is requested shall be deemed admitted unless within twenty days after service thereof or within such further time as the court may allow, the party to whom the request is directed serves upon the party requesting the admission a sworn statement either denying specifically the matters of which an admission is requested or setting forth in detail the reasons why he cannot truthfully either admit or deny those matters.”

As the bolded and underlined part indicates, the Response Time for Requests for Admission under New York law is only 20 days and not 30 days. As with California, these are also 20 calendar days. New York law, like California law, does not make this distinction clear, even given its extreme importance. If you’re interested in the New York statutes on how to count days, look at Section 20 of New York’s General Construction Law, which states in relevant part:

“A number of days specified as a period from a certain day within which or after or before which an act is authorized or required to be done means such number of calendar days exclusive of the calendar day from which the reckoning is made”


Lastly, Requests for Admission are also allowed under federal law as well, specifically Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 36. Rule 36(a)(3) describes the Response Time as:

“A matter is admitted unless, within 30 days after being served, the party to whom the request is directed serves on the requesting party a written answer or objection addressed to the matter and signed by the party or its attorney. A shorter or longer time for responding may be stipulated to under Rule 29 or be ordered by the court.”

As before, the part I bolded and underlined shows that the Response Time to Requests for Admission under federal law is also 30 days, just like how it is under California law. These 30 days under the FRCP are also calendar days, just like they are under California and New York law. The law governing how days are counted under the FRCP is FRCP 6(a), which states:

“When the period is stated in days or a longer unit of time:

(A) exclude the day of the event that triggers the period;

(B) count every day, including intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays; and

(C) include the last day of the period, but if the last day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the period continues to run until the end of the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.”

From all of this, I am hoping you can see that it is extraordinarily important to know the details of the specific type of discovery you’re dealing with. Not all jurisdictions have the same rules. It’s also, of course, very dangerous to identify terms like “days” that could be vague and research what that term actually refers to.

As always, I hope this post was helpful. It is not intended as a comprehensive discussion, but rather just an overview of the subject matter discussed. If you have an actual case involving, for instance, Requests for Admission, absolutely do your own research. The law I describe here might very well have changed in the time since I wrote this post. Relying on outdated or inaccurate information obviously does not increase your chances of success. If your case is in New York, please do remember that although I have been licensed in New York since 2012, I do not maintain an office in New York as of the date of this post. Thus, under New York’s Judiciary Law section 470, I’m not permitted to take cases in New York.

Good luck!

The following two tabs change content below.

Andy Chen

Andy I. Chen is a lawyer licensed to practice law in California and New York. Andy maintains offices in Los Altos, California and Modesto, California. Under the New York Court of Appeals' 2015 decision in Schoenefeld v. State of New York, Andy does not accept cases from those in New York state. He does, however, know many lawyers in New York state and would be happy to make a referral.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *