Friday, December 01, 2006

Rules of Electronic Discovery

The much advertised, talked about, and consternated Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and electronic discovery go into effect today.

A recent article made the observation back in April that the “rule changes reflect that litigation discovery has been revolutionized by electronic storage of vast amounts of information and were preceded & informed by judicial application of the existing procedural rules to electronic discovery issues.”

“The federal procedural changes concerning electronic discovery,” the article also notes, “reflect that discovery of e-mail and other electronic information is now a routine yet critical aspect of virtually every litigated case. States will undoubtedly adopt similar rules and procedures, even when state court rules don’t mirror the federal rules…”

The new civil rules are not alone in their activation. Appellate Rule 25, Bankruptcy Rule 9037, and Criminal Rule 49.1 all “address privacy and security concerns arising from electronic case filings.”

A ComputerWorld article as recent as last week said that few corporations were prepared for the new federal rules, and that according to a survey it ran about 32% of IT managers said their companies weren’t prepared at all, with another 42% saying they didn’t know whether they were or not.

For those who have not seen it before, specific changes to the federal rules aimed at electronically-stored information can be read here, with more digested information here.

In advance of state rules and related activity, the National Center for State Courts has a set of “Guidelines for State Trial Courts Regarding Discovery of Electronically-stored Information,” compiled in August, posted online, as well.

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