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Some attorneys say so (e.g. https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/is-the-discovery-process-halted-when-a-motion-for--3637798.html), but when I looked into the statute (CCP 2030.090, 2031.060, 2033.080), I never found anything that "stays" the discovery pending the hearing of motion for protective order, or explicitly states that the moving party does not ned to comply with the discovery until the motion is ruled.

This is especially important for "request of admissions" because the lack of response would enable the propounding party to move the Court to deem every request as if they were admitted.

Lack of response to request for production of documents / interrogatories also almost guarantee a compel / sanction motion to be granted.

Which means, if the party seeking protective order just want to be safe, they would need to respond to the (supposedly unreasonable) discovery anyway, even if the response is just a whole bunch of objections. Moreover, some objections have to be very specific (e.g. exactly why something is over-burdensome, what effort would it take, etc.), which means it would be a lot of work to formulate a bullet-proof response. Wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose of motion for protective order?

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    In federal practice and in most U.S. states this is expressly provided by court rule. CA has most of its court rules in statutes that are organized quite differently, but I suspect that there is either a case or rule to that effect although I don't know CA practice. – ohwilleke Dec 12 '20 at 22:56
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it would be a lot of work to formulate a bullet-proof response. Wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose of motion for protective order?

No. The purpose of objections --and of motions for protective order-- is not to avoid doing "a lot of work", but to protect information the party considers unreasonable or which ought to be protected from discovery. Elaborating on an objection to interrogatories and/or requests does not provide the information sought to be discovered. Therefore, objections do not defeat the purpose of a motion for protective order.

The difference (or one difference) between a motion for protective order and an objection is that the adversary can overcome the objection by rephrasing the interrogatory or request, whereas a protective order is intended to preclude all attempts to skirt the substance of that order.

I never found anything that "stays" the discovery pending the hearing of motion for protective order

Because there is no need to. Complying with the discovery request would render the motion for protective order a moot issue. Therefore, it is understood that that particular item of discovery essentially would be stayed while the judge has the occasion to rule on the matter.

This is especially important for "request of admissions"

There are three possible answers to each item in a request of admissions: Admission, denial, or objection. Since objections are allowed (with the proper justification therefor), there is no need to stay discovery. The party just needs to file his responses within the deadline. Moving for a protective order is an odd, and seemingly useless, way to address requests for admissions.

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  • I see. Thanks for the detailed explanation. I am facing a scenario which the opposing party propounded over a hundred discovery requests for a straightforward post-judgment summary proceeding, consisting of RFA, RFPD, plus special / form interrogatories with little relevance to the substance of the matter. It is clearly gamesmanship. Yes, RFA is rather simple to respond/object, so in practice it would not be much of an issue to respond to RFA, ignore the other requests, and move for a protective order for the rest. I already moved for that, and the court set a hearing - though they denied OST. – aaronqli Dec 12 '20 at 21:39
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    @aaronqli Be sure to elaborate on your objections so they are persuasive. As for "ignoring the other requests", the adversary might file a motion to compel unless your motion for protective order already encompasses them (your comment suggests that the adversary is trying to harass, whence I would not be surprised if he files a motion to compel). I don't know what OST stands for. – Iñaki Viggers Dec 12 '20 at 22:53
  • I meant Order Shortening Time (OST) - I asked for an expedited hearing (instead of complying with usual 16 court-day notice period on motion) on the ground that discovery response deadline and cut off date are close. Yes they actually threatened me and said they would "sure bring your bad-faith objections to court if any", so I would totally expect a compel motion. I sent Meet and Confer prior to the motion which explained the grounds for objections to each request. Not sure why they do that (except for making more billing hours). It seems just a waste of time. – aaronqli Dec 13 '20 at 1:12

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