On July 19, 2018, the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts issued an administrative order adopting a new rule for the New York Commercial Division supporting the use of technology-assisted document review. Based on a recommendation and proposal by the Subcommittee on Procedural Rules to Promote Efficient Case Resolution, Commercial Division Rule 11-e has been amended to state: The parties are encouraged to use the most efficient means to review documents, including electronically stored information (“ESI”), that is consistent with the parties’ disclosure obligations under Article 31 of the CPLR and proportional to the needs of the case. Such means may include technology-assisted review, including predictive coding, in appropriate cases. The parties are encouraged to confer, at the outset of discovery and as needed throughout the discovery period, about technology-assisted review mechanisms they intend to use in document review and production. The Subcommittee noted that document review “consumes an average of 73% of the total cost of document production in cases involving electronic discovery.” With that in mind, the Court adopted a rule meant to streamline and make electronic discovery more efficient in large, complex and e-discovery-intensive cases. The use of technology-assisted review is still optional. It should be considered...
Category: Litigation Preparedness and Strategies
“Private” Facebook Posts Are Discoverable and Should Be Treated as Any Other Source of Discoverable Information
The New York Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in Forman v. Henkin that “private” Facebook posts (i.e., those accessible only to your Facebook “friends,” as opposed to the general public) are discoverable if they meet the common discovery standard—that they are “material and necessary to the prosecution or defense of an action.” In Forman, plaintiff alleged she was severely injured when she fell from defendant’s horse. Plaintiff alleged her injuries impaired her ability to communicate and participate in what she described as the active lifestyle she enjoyed before the accident. Plaintiff alleged she posted on Facebook many photographs that depicted her pre-accident lifestyle, but that communicating on that social media platform had become so difficult after the accident that she deactivated the account six months later. She alleged that, after her accident, it would take hours to write a message on Facebook because she would have to re-read it several times before sending it to be sure that it made sense. Defendant requested an unlimited authorization to obtain plaintiff’s “private” Facebook account postings, arguing they would be relevant to plaintiff’s claims. The Supreme Court ordered plaintiff to produce all photographs (that were not of a romantic or sexual nature) and an...
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On May 11, 2017, the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association issued its third iteration of Social Media Ethics Guidelines. As the authors of the Guidelines aptly recognize: “As use of social media by lawyers and clients continues to grow and as social media networks proliferate and become more sophisticated, so too do the ethics issues facing lawyers.” This recent update adds principles regarding professional competence and attorney use of social media, and addresses ethical considerations regarding maintaining client confidences, handling potential conflicts of interests related to social media, following clients’ social media, and communicating with judges via social media. Issued in 2014 and updated in June 2015, the Guidelines aim to provide “guiding principles” as opposed to “best practices” for the modern lawyer’s evolving use of social media. The authors acknowledge the guidelines’ inherent inability to define universal principles in the face of varying ethics codes, which “may differ due to different social mores, the priorities of different demographic populations, and the historical approaches to ethics rules and opinions in different localities.” The Guidelines are based upon the New York Rules of Professional Conduct and New York bar associates’ interpretation of those rules....
On February 3, 2015, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court affirmed the dismissal of a complaint two attorneys filed against the Office of Attorney Ethics and its Director (collectively “OAE”) claiming OAE lacked authority to investigate and prosecute ethics grievances against them for “friending” a party to a litigation on Facebook. The Appellate Division’s decision is significant – it affirms OAE’s power to investigate and prosecute alleged ethical violations and demonstrates the potential consequences for attorneys’ improper use of social media in litigation.
Florida is the Latest State to Allow Attorneys to Advise Clients About the Removal of Social Media Posts and Pictures
On January 23, 2015, the Professional Ethics Committee of the Florida Bar issued an advisory opinion holding that before litigation commences, and absent any other preservation obligation, an attorney may advise a client to: (1) remove information from social media pages and (2) change privacy settings from public to private, as long as the client retains a record of any deleted information or data. In so holding, the Florida ethics committee joined panels from New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina that have issued similar guidance.
Obtaining electronic discovery from a city or municipality in civil litigation can be a slow process. But, in DMAC LLC and Fourmen Construction, Inc. v. City of Peekskill, plaintiffs’ task was made impossible because of the City of Peekskill’s failure to implement a “formal e-mail retention policy,” leaving it up to the “sole discretion” of City staff and elected officials whether to retain or delete their e mails. When the City and other defendants were sued in 2009 for stopping a real estate development project that began back in 2007, allegedly for political reasons, that lack of any e-mail retention policy came back to haunt the defendants.
Anyone who thought that the concept of cooperation among counsel in discovery matters under the mandates of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f) and The Sedona Conference® “Cooperation Proclamation” was a hollow platitude or aspirational goal, might want to review the latest word on this from one of the pre-eminent ediscovery Judges in the Country, Magistrate Judge John Facciola, of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. As he is wont to do, Judge Facciola took the opportunity presented by a rather pedestrian discovery dispute among counsel to make clear that the watchword in litigation discovery is cooperation among counsel, at least in his court.
Having recognized the challenges regarding jurors’ use of social media in the courtroom, the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management requested that the Federal Judicial Center (“FJC”) survey district court judges to identify effective mechanisms to curtail this growing problem. In response, the FJC queried 952 district judges and issued Jurors’ Use of Media During Trials and Deliberations, which demonstrates that despite the various strategies devised, it is virtually impossible to prevent jurors’ use of social media and is equally difficult to detect each and every impropriety. This issue is not novel; in fact, this blog has previously reported on instances where jurors’ use of social media had a significant impact on a proceeding as well as suggestions on how to avoid such pitfalls. Click here for those postings.
Ooops, They Did it Again — Jurors Continue to Improperly Use the Internet, and Courts Struggle with Solutions
All over the country, courts are struggling with how best to prevent juror communications and/or research on the Internet, including on social media such as Facebook. What’s the solution? Thus far, there is no clear answer, as evidenced by a recent New Jersey case in which a juror dodged sanctions for contempt after researching a child sex-crime case involving a former pastor on the Internet — even after being instructed to refrain from such Internet research.