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U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida Announces Proposed ESI Checklist

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Guest Author: Tom O’Connor, Director, Gulf Coast Legal Tech Center

In a recent post, “The Biggest eDiscovery Rule Change You Haven’t Heard About,” I wrote about eDiscovery pilot projects in two Federal courts designed to reduce the time for discovery.  Now, Chris Dix, an attorney and ACEDS stalwart at Smith Hulsey & Busey in Jacksonville, has alerted us that The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has announced (via a Sept 19 posting on its website) proposed amendments to its Local Rules. This includes an “ESI Checklist” for use in preparing for Rule 26(f) conferences and drafting case management reports for cases pending in the Southern District of Florida.

The proposed order indicates the checklist is recommended, but not required, stating that “In connection with the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f) conference and in preparing the Local Rule 16.1(b)(2) conference report, the Court encourages the use of the following checklist. The usefulness of any particular topic may depend on the nature and complexity of the matter.”

Topics covered include:

  • Range of Preservation
  • ED Liaisons
  • Informal ID of Data (including location and format)
  • Costs and Proportionality
  • Search Methods (including keywords)
  • Phasing
  • Production
  • Privileged Documents

As Chris notes, “The checklist is useful and user-friendly (i.e., non-technical), even for cases which are not pending in the Southern District of Florida.”

The entire ESI Checklist is on the last 2 pages of the 79-page Administrative Order for the proposed amendments which can be found on the Court’s website.

While the list may seem fairly obvious to longstanding eDiscovery professionals, all attempts to promote and standardize the use of eDiscovery by the courts are welcome.  As more and more courts produce local rules, such as the Florida checklist or the MID Pilot Project, we expect to see increased conformance to the words of FRCP 1 in producing a “… just speedy and inexpensive….” outcome to matters before the courts.  Judge Paul Grimm, in his introductory video to the MID, invoked those words and set the dual goal of reducing overall costs and shortening the time of litigation, something all of us in our profession heartily endorse.

About Tom O’Connor

Tom O’Connor is nationally known as a consultant, speaker, and writer. In his consulting work, Tom specializes in working with law firms and their corporate clients to manage their electronic discovery needs. Tom’s consulting experience is primarily in complex litigation matters where he has worked on several major cases, most recently the BP litigation. He has also been appointed as a technical consultant by various federal and state courts on cases dealing with large amounts of electronic evidence and specializes in negotiating ESI exchange protocols.  Tom speaks at major legal conferences and writes for both the Advanced Discovery blog and national legal publications.

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