eDiscovery Daily Blog

Florida Judges Say State Needs More eDiscovery Mediators: eDiscovery Trends

You’d think I lived in Florida as much as we’ve covered it lately, both good and not so good.  This story, for the first state to require technology CLE for attorneys, could be true in many other states as well.

In the Daily Business Review article Judges Zero In on E-Discovery as Promising Niche for Neutrals, written by Samantha Joseph (subscription required, but it’s free), a panel of state judges said there’s a big untapped opportunity for neutrals to specialize in electronic discovery.

Over 3,300 certified circuit court mediators practice in Florida, according to data from the state Supreme Court. But few specialize in eDiscovery, which was the focus of amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure last year as courts mapped out litigants’ obligations to preserve electronically stored information (ESI).

“This would be a very good area for our mediators to become educated on,” said Palm Beach Circuit Judge Lisa Small.

Small joined Magistrate Judge Sarah Willis and Circuit Judges Meenu Sasser, Daliah Weiss and Jessica Ticktin (all with the 15th Judicial Circuit of Florida) for a panel discussion Friday, moderated by David Steinfeld, Palm Beach Gardens attorney and founder of Everything e-Discovery LLC.

“Every single case is an e-discovery case now,” Sasser said. “That’s how we live our lives. Everyone is communicating through Facebook, emails, texts.”

Sasser, a finalist for a vacancy in the Fourth District Court of Appeal and the first sitting state court judge in Florida to implement a standing order on ESI, created a meet-and-confer obligation among litigants “to discuss in detail” their clients’ computer systems, software and other factors that could impact eDiscovery, delay cases and add thousands to court costs.  Sasser said administrative judges across the state contacted her to discuss the order, with plans to implement similar policies.

The judges on the panel all agreed on the idea of appointing a special magistrate to handle detailed, complex and time-consuming ESI issues, much like at the height of the housing crisis when some magistrates focused solely on foreclosures to help clear crowded dockets.  The judges said skilled neutrals would help them manage uniform calendar work – about 80-90 percent of which include discovery disputes, primarily involving electronic files and would potentially save litigants in complex litigation thousands of dollars.

So, if you’re a certified court mediator in Florida looking for an opportunity for more work, eDiscovery education could be the ticket.  Now you know on what you can spend (at least) those three required hours of technology CLE!

So, what do you think?  Does your state need more experienced eDiscovery mediators?  Maybe you could change your history!  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.