San Francisco Federal Amps Up E-Discovery

     (CN) - In a move designed to "keep pace with rapidly evolving technology," the Northern District of California has unveiled new e-discovery guidelines.
     A bench-bar committee chaired by U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte developed the procedures, and the entire court unanimously approved them.
     Counsel and litigants are to familiarize themselves with the guidelines, and to "immediately" begin using a revised standing order when preparing case-management statements and the guidelines' checklist, as appropriate, when meeting and conferring, the court said Tuesday.
     "The guidelines are designed to establish best practices for evidence preservation in the digital age and to ensure that local practices regarding the discovery of ESI [electronically stored information] keep pace with rapidly evolving technology and to be flexible enough to be used in a wide variety of cases," the court said in a statement.
     The package of ESI-related documents includes guidelines, a checklist for use during the Rule 26(f) meet-and-confer process, and a three-page model order regarding the discovery of electronically stored information.
     "These tools are designed to promote cooperative e-discovery planning as soon as practicable that is tailored and proportionate to the needs of the particular case to achieve its just, speedy and inexpensive resolution, consistent with Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure," Laporte said in a statement.
     Also serving on the committee were U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu; Kathryn Dickson, with Dickson Geesman; Stephanie Mendelsohn, director of corporate records and e-discovery at Genentech Inc.; Ed Reines, with Partner, Weil Gotshal & Manges; Joseph Saveri, with Saveri Law Firm; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Neill Tseng.
     "The court requires counsel to be familiar with these tools and confirm in the initial case management statement that they have reviewed the guidelines regarding preservation and decided whether to enter into a stipulated order governing e-discovery, in light of the model stipulated order," Laporte added.
     The court noted that it "hopes that the model stipulated order will be a widely-used tool for litigants just as the court-approved stipulated protective have been in patent and other cases."
     Tseng declined a request from Courthouse News to comment on the guidelines.
     The guidelines apparently apply to any case in the Northern District that has not reached the Rule 26(f) conference phase, given their immediate effect.