eDiscovery Daily Blog

The Ongoing Battle Over How ESI is Produced: eDiscovery Trends, Part Two

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars.  Tom has also written several terrific informational overview series for CloudNine, including his most recent one, Mobile Collection: It’s Not Just for iPhones Anymore.  Now, Tom has written another terrific overview regarding mobile device collection titled The Ongoing Battle Over How ESI is Produced that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog.  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into four parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  The first part was yesterday, here’s the second part.

Rule 34(b) and Form of Production

As I’ve said before, “read the rule book shankapotomous.”  So, let’s look at exactly what the rules say about this issue.  Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) Rule 34, section (b) reads as follows:

(b) Procedure.

…..(1) Contents of the Request. The request:

……….(A) must describe with reasonable particularity each item or category of items to be inspected;

……….(B) must specify a reasonable time, place, and manner for the inspection and for performing the related acts; and

……….(C) may specify the form or forms in which electronically stored information is to be produced.

…..(2) Responses and Objections.

……….(A) Time to Respond. The party to whom the request is directed must respond in writing within 30 days after being served or — if the request was delivered under Rule 26(d)(2) — within 30 days after the parties’ first Rule 26(f) conference. A shorter or longer time may be stipulated to under Rule 29 or be ordered by the court.

……….(B) Responding to Each Item. For each item or category, the response must either state that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested or state with specificity the grounds for objecting to the request, including the reasons. The responding party may state that it will produce copies of documents or of electronically stored information instead of permitting inspection. The production must then be completed no later than the time for inspection specified in the request or another reasonable time specified in the response.

……….(C) Objections. An objection must state whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of that objection. An objection to part of a request must specify the part and permit inspection of the rest.

……….(D) Responding to a Request for Production of Electronically Stored Information. The response may state an objection to a requested form for producing electronically stored information. If the responding party objects to a requested form—or if no form was specified in the request—the party must state the form or forms it intends to use.

……….(E) Producing the Documents or Electronically Stored Information. Unless otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court, these procedures apply to producing documents or electronically stored information:

……………(i) A party must produce documents as they are kept in the usual course of business or must organize and label them to correspond to the categories in the request;

……………(ii) If a request does not specify a form for producing electronically stored information, a party must produce it in a form or forms in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a reasonably usable form or forms; and

……………(iii) A party need not produce the same electronically stored information in more than one form.

The Rule above seems to make clear three salient points:

  1. The requesting party gets to specify the form of the production
  2. The responding party gets to object and offer a different format IF they can offer a specific set of objections with the reasons why they need to use an alternate format
  3. If neither side specifies a format, the default format is native files.

We’ll publish Part 3 – Objections to Native File Production and Counter-Arguments – on Friday.

So, what do you think?  Do you prefer image-based productions or native file productions?  As always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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