Wednesday, April 4, 2012
E-Neutrals and FL ESI rules
I spent the last couple of days at the national annual conference of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS). There were many vendors, attorneys and even court personnel attending. Of particular interest, was a pilot program developed by Clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Robert Barth. That court has identified special masters and E-neutrals as fulfilling the need to effectively address issues presented by the preservation, collection and production of relevant Electronically Stored Information (ESI) during the litigation process. The parties in those cases reportedly benefit from the appointment of Electronic Discovery Special Masters (EDSMs) in appropriate cases. Any findings of fact or conclusions of law reached by the EDSM will be presented to the court as a report and recommendation, to which the parties have the opportunity to object, prior to a de novo review by the court (see details at - http://www.pawd.uscourts.gov/Pages/ediscovorey.htm). Florida's draft rules do include a case management topic of optional appointment of special magistrates in the event such issues need to be referred. This was discussed during an ACEDS panel I served on with my successor on the Florida Civil Rules Committee, Kevin Johnson. We also spoke on the likelihood of a decision from the Supreme Court of Florida concerning the proposed amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and any time frame for implementation. Given the largely friendly reception during oral argument, it appears adoption of the language is imminent, but the forthcoming opinion could delay the effective date of the rules, given the Court's concern for educating the bench and bar.