eDiscovery Daily Blog

Judge Grimm Shows that Discovery Doesn’t Have to Be…Grim – eDiscovery Best Practices

On the day this blog debuted, we covered one of the most well-known cases related to discovery abuses (Victor Stanley, Inc. v. Creative Pipe, Inc.), where Maryland District Judge Paul W. Grimm included in his order a provision that the defendant actually be “imprisoned for a period not to exceed two years” if he didn’t pay the plaintiff the attorney’s fees and costs to be awarded.  Now, Judge Grimm provides a new Discovery Order that sets requirements for attorneys in his court to conduct discovery in a proportional manner.

In Ralph Losey’s e-Discovery Team® blog, he provides a two part discussion of Judge Grimm’s new discovery order (Judge Grimm’s New Discovery Order Is Now An e-Discovery Best Practice, Part One and Part Two).  The posts are well worth reading for several reasons, including to see how many ways the Electronic Discovery Best Practices (EDBP.com) model can be displayed (here’s our coverage of it when it was introduced last year).  As Ralph notes:

“First, it is important to note that Judge Grimm’s Discovery Order is an actual Order that he enters at the beginning of many cases. It is not a recommendation, guideline, or suggested protocol. The Maryland District Court’s Suggested Protocol for Discovery of Electronically Stored Information is a separate document that remains in effect. If you do not follow a Suggested Protocol, you may get a grim scowl and a tsk-tsk. If you do not follow an Order, you may go to jail. Just ask Victor Stanley.”

It was technically Mark Pappas of Creative Pipe who was threatened with imprisonment, but let’s not quibble… 😉

Anyway, as Ralph notes, the essence of the order is proportionality, with several phase one limits for proportionality (absent order of the Court upon a showing of good cause or stipulation by the parties), including:

  • RFPs are limited to 15 in number;
  • No more than 10 custodians can be searched;
  • ESI more than 5 years old is excluded;
  • Discovery is limited to reasonably accessible sources;
  • No more than 160 hours shall be expended for search and review services, including identifying potentially responsive ESI, collecting and searching that ESI (by any search method including properly validated keywords, Boolean searches and computer-assisted review), and reviewing that ESI for responsiveness, confidentiality, and for privilege or work product protection.

Both the producing and receiving parties have responsibilities, as follows:

“The producing party must be able to demonstrate that the search was effectively designed and efficiently conducted…[and] must maintain detailed time records to demonstrate what was done and the time spent doing it, for review by an adversary and the Court, if requested… Parties requesting ESI discovery and parties responding to such requests are expected to cooperate in the development of search methodology and criteria to achieve proportionality in ESI discovery, including appropriate use of computer-assisted search methodology.”

That isn’t just a set of guidelines, that’s an order!

A copy of Judge Grimm’s new Discovery Order can be found on a link in each of Ralph’s two posts above as well as on Ralph’s site here.

So, what do you think?  What do you think of the order?  Should orders like this be common in other courts?   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 Discovery. eDiscoveryDaily is made available by CloudNine Discovery solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscoveryDaily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.