Another Federal District Court Endorses Issue Coding as a Best Practice
Monday’s blog discussed U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin’s opinion in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case that mere keyword searches tend to be inadequate and that defendants who self-collect must disclose their search terms and methods. National Day Laborer Organizing Network, et al. v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, et al., 2012 U.S. Dist. Lexis 97863 (SDNY, July 13, 2012).
Judge Scheindlin recommended finding the best practices for more advanced electronic discovery, including issue coding and machine learning tools to find responsive documents. She gently chastised the government for its technological incompetence: “FOIA requires the government to respond adequately to requests from the public and defendants must learn to use twenty-first century technologies to effectuate congressional intent.” Id. at 44.
The Court also addressed the idea that government custodians cannot be trusted to produce their own ESI discovery in FOIA cases: “A court cannot simply trust the defendant agencies’ unsupported assertions that their lay custodians have designed and conducted a reasonable search.” Id. She orders the parties to work cooperatively to agree on more targeted search terms and language protocols to produce better results.
This case speaks to the fact that courts, litigants and government agencies in particular continue to struggle with implementing twenty-first century technologies for ESI productions. Our firm offers cutting-edge plaintiff electronic discovery services, including but not limited to enhanced programmatic issue coding, which is an improvement upon the issue coding technology that Judge Scheindlin endorsed. Call us today at 888-313-4457 for a free consultation.