Forensic Update

Reflections on information management within the legal and regulatory arena

Seventh Circuit results from phase one of Electronic Discovery Pilot Program

Posted by Johnny Lee on June 3, 2010

The Seventh Circuit has recently completed the first phase of its Electronic Discovery Pilot Program.  This phase lasted seven months and consisted of  applying the Electronic Discovery Pilot Program Committee’s “Principles Relating to the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information” in the trenches of the Seventh Circuit.  This phase is just the first step in “multi-year, multi-phase process to develop, implement, evaluate, and improve pretrial litigation procedures that would provide fairness and justice to all parties while seeking to reduce the cost and burden of electronic discovery consistent with Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”

Last month, the Committee released its 425-page report that reveals a series of interesting trends, despite the rather limited sample (of the U.S. litigation arena) involved.  Among the key findings were that 100% of the participating judges either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that a more efficient eDiscovery process resulted from the use of so-called “eDiscovery liaisons” (as articulated by Principle 2.02 of the Committee’s Principles).  Likewise, an overwhelming majority of the judges thought that the Principles increased (a) counsels’ “level of attention to the technologies affecting the discovery process” and (b) counsels’ “ability to resolve discovery disputes before requesting court involvement” (90% and 92%, respectively).

Equally revealing results indicate that a significant portion of the responding attorneys (43%) reported that the Principles “increased” or “greatly increased” the fairness of the discovery process.  Moreover, 22% of responding attorneys said that the Principles increased their ability to zealously represent their clients.

The second (of three total) phases will begin on July 1, 2010.  This phase may actually be expanded to include broader sampling from both cases and participating judges.  The Committee also intends to “lengthen the implementation period for Phase Two so the Principles will be tested more comprehensively than in Phase One.”

The full report, with appendices, can be found here.

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