Tuesday, November 10, 2009

E-discovery group to introduce rule language in 2010


E-discovery rules for Florida are expected to be proposed next year, according to Lawrence Kolin, who chairs the Civil Procedure Rules Subcommittee on Electronic Discovery.

Kolin’s group, consisting of attorneys in diverse areas of practice and members of the judiciary, has been studying the application of the federal rules amendments in this area since their passage.

Lawrence Kolin “Recognizing the strain on resources, we want to incentivize the parties to work though anticipated issues before judicial intervention, whenever possible,” said Kolin of Orlando.

Kolin points to the rising burden and cost of discovery in litigation which has resulted in such efforts as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit initiating a pilot program to encourage early and informal information exchange on commonly encountered issues.

“Surprisingly, of the states that have adopted statewide procedural rules largely based on federal language, only a minority has made mandatory the ‘meet and confer’ provisions — perhaps in deference to the stark difference in state and federal practice culture,” said Kolin, adding the discussion over a one-size-fits-all e-discovery rules approach continues.

As an interim step, Kolin said the subcommittee worked with Orange County Bar members, The Florida Bar Business Law Section, and experts in the area, including Ralph Losey and William Hamilton, who teach a law school course in the subject, to create local case management rules.

Kolin said those rules have begun to roll out in the “business courts” or complex business litigation divisions of the state, beginning with the 13th Circuit last summer. Judge Richard Nielsen, who presides over that division, has indicated that most of the cases involving electronically stored information (ESI) have sophisticated businesses as parties and attorneys accustomed to the use of technology and the concepts of preservation and proportionality, according to Kolin.

Kolin recently met with Orlando business court Judges Frederick Lauten and Thomas Smith who he says are in favor of adopting similar language and will be approaching Chief Judge Belvin Perry about a Ninth Judicial Circuit administrative order. He has also contacted 11th Circuit Judge Gill Freeman and General Magistrate Elizabeth Schwabedissen, as well as Judges Jeffrey Streitfeld and Charles Greene in the 17th Circuit, regarding adopting case management rules for ESI in advance of statewide rules.

The subcommittee is also working with members of the joint committee of the Trial Lawyers Section and the conferences of the circuit and county courts judges to include the topic of e-discovery in the next Handbook on Discovery Practice.

Kolin continues to encourage members of the bench and Bar to contact his subcommittee with comments and experiences about electronic discovery at: ediscoveryrules@gmail.com.

[Revised: 11-10-2009 ]

Monday, June 29, 2009

Florida Panel takes ‘thoughtful and deliberate’ route toward e-discovery rules proposals


Panel takes ‘thoughtful and deliberate’ route toward e-discovery rules proposals

E-discovery rulemaking in states is a complex process, says Lawrence Kolin, chair of the Civil Procedure Rules Subcommittee on Electronic Discovery.

Lawrence Kolin Kolin’s group, consisting of attorneys in diverse areas of practice and members of the judiciary, has been studying the issue since before the implementation of the federal rule amendments in 2006.

Earlier this year, Kolin set out to implement interim procedures in the state’s business court divisions as a test prior to a rollout of any statewide rules.

“That was before the budgetary crisis and foreclosure avalanche took precedence,” said Kolin, an Orlando attorney and mediator.

Kolin said despite input from the Civil Procedure Rules Subcommittee on Electronic Discovery at a meeting of the Task Force on Management of Cases Involving Complex Litigation, the only mention of electronically stored information (ESI) was made without specific guidance from the Florida Supreme Court in its recent opinion and amendment resulting from that effort. Kolin, however, was pleased to see the beginnings of implementing “the culture of cooperation” in new Rule 1.201.

“The early meet-and-confer federal discovery culture is foreign to state cases, but will lead to efficient use of resources for parties and the courts once it becomes familiar,” Kolin said.

Many states have adopted wholesale the language of the federal rules, but positions on the effectiveness of those rules are also evolving. Kolin points to the American College of Trial Lawyers which is seeking to reform the current Federal Rules of Civil Procedure just two and a half years after the amendments took effect. Under its proposal, an immediate conference would be held regarding preservation, with a preservation order issued by the judge.

Kolin said the college wants discovery to be governed by the judge rather than by the parties and a single judicial officer would handle a case from start to finish. Safe harbor language would be changed from inadvertent to a willful and reckless standard. He said mandatory disclosures would be enforced through immediate production by the plaintiff of materials supporting their case, followed quickly by the defense. Kolin notes that the college does advocate that issues should be delineated early and narrowed. He said, “This is a positive goal that avoids having the litigation be focused on the discovery rather than the merits of the case where resources are better spent.”

The Civil Procedure Rules Subcommittee on Electronic Discovery has likewise discussed that e-discovery should be limited by proportionality, taking into account the nature and scope of the case, relevance, importance to adjudication, expense, and burdens, Kolin said. A straw poll taken at the Midyear Meeting revealed the full committee wants to take the “thoughtful and deliberate” route to this type of rulemaking, Kolin said.

Less than half the states have enacted such rules so far.

“States like Louisiana have already had to add to their previous e-discovery rule amendments to address ESI, which is something we would like to avoid,” Kolin said.

Kolin said the importance of continuing education of lawyers and judges about technology creating ESI and its application in cases of all types. He encourages input from the bench and Bar through a dedicated e-mail at ediscoveryrules@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


E-discovery rules on track

On the second anniversary of the passage of the federal rules, a growing number of states are implementing rules in the area of electronic discovery.

Lawrence Kolin E-discovery rules are still a work in progress in Florida, according to Orlando lawyer Lawrence Kolin, who chairs the Civil Procedure Rules Subcommittee on Electronic Discovery.

Kolin’s group, consisting of attorneys in diverse areas of practice and members of the judiciary, has been studying the application of the federal rules since their passage.

“It is pretty well settled now that up-front disclosures and early meet and confer type rules avoid protracted litigation and allow parties to get to the merits of their dispute,” Kolin said. “While the body of law emerging from the federal courts continues to produce somewhat varied holdings, at least it provides some guidance going forward with what to expect from reasoned decisions, should the Florida rules largely mirror the language and concepts of the federal rules.”

That is the plan at present, Kolin said, cautioning, however, that more than 40 federal district courts have further tailored requirements in special local rules, forms, or guidelines.

Kolin said his panel understands a culture shift will occur slowly for some and old ways of litigating in state court must eventually be overcome in the electronic data era.

“We hope to craft rules that encourage the parties to work together to avoid unnecessary hearings that the judicial system certainly cannot afford in this time of financial crisis,” Kolin said.

As an interim step, he said, case management rules are forthcoming for the business courts or complex business litigation divisions of the state. Some states, such as Arizona, have addressed e-discovery in family law rules, as those cases tend to be on the forefront of data issues with instant messaging and cell phone SMS texts being sought and used by litigants.

Kolin said there is a need for continuing education of practitioners and judges in this evolving area that concerns all litigants. He also encourages members of the Bar to contact him with any comments, experiences, or observations regarding electronic discovery they wish to share with the subcommittee at an e-mail address he has set up for that purpose: ediscoveryrules@gmail.com.