Recently, the Seventh Circuit announced its Electronic Discovery Pilot Program. The program was developed in response to continuing comments by the business community and practicing attorneys about the need to reform the civil pretrial discovery process. It is an attempt to reduce the cost and burden of ediscovery in litigation. What makes the Seventh Circuit’s pilot program unique is that its results will be reviewed and analyzed during the program’s phases.
A series of Principles Relating to the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information (“ESI”) were developed and codified in a standing order. These principles are intended to serve as supplemental procedural ediscovery guidelines for the parties in selected cases. Individual district court, magistrate, and bankruptcy judges in the Seventh Circuit have agreed to adopt the principles and implement them in selected cases during Phase I of the program, which runs through May 1, 2010.
Kenneth J. Winters, the Managing Director of the Sedona Conference®, and former Colorado Supreme Court Judge Rebecca Kourlis, the Executive Director of the Institute for Advancement of the American Legal System (“IAALS”) at the University of Denver, assisted in the development and review of these principles.
IAALS is developing questionnaires to assess the efficacy of the principles. The questionnaires will be completed by the judges and lawyers participating in Phase I of the program. The results of the IAALS’ questionnaires will be presented to the Seventh Circuit at its annual meeting in May, 2010. At that time, the program’s ediscovery principles will be reviewed and refined as needed. Phase II of the program is scheduled to proceed from June, 2010 through May, 2011. It is contemplated that in May, 2011, Phase II findings will be presented and the Seventh Circuit’s final ediscovery principles announced.
Among other things, the principles require in the event of a dispute during the meet and confer process, the appointment of an ediscovery liaison who should be prepared to participate in ediscovery dispute resolution. These principles also recognize that that Rule 26(b)(2)(C)’s proportionality principles should be applied when formulating a discovery plan; provide that sanctions can be imposed for the failure to cooperate and participate in good faith in the meet and confer process; identify categories of ESI, which are generally not discoverable in most cases; and provides that if a party intends to request the preservation or production of these categories of ESI, that such a request be discussed at the parties’ initial meet and confer session or as soon thereafter as practicable.Leave a Comment »