Court Refuses to Order U.S. Government to Reproduce Searchable ESI Production
Electronic discovery issues can occur even in criminal cases. In United States v. Meredith, Case No. 12-00143 (W.D.K.Y., September 22, 2015), Defendant filed a motion to compel production of electronic documents in a “usable” format as well as electronic production of Brady material. The government produced a large quantity of electronically stored information (ESI), but Defendant sought reproduction in a more “usable” format, claiming that reviewing the documents in the government’s initial production format would cost in excess of $300,000. The government countered that Defendant could term-search the documents using certain software and also offered to assist Defendant in searching for certain materials.
The court held that the government had met its discovery obligation by providing ESI in a format searchable by various different available applications. Accordingly, the court denied the motion to compel, which also sought dismissal as an alternative to a reproduction.
Defendant also sought production of Brady material, alleging that the government failed to properly cull its production, potentially hiding exculpatory material. But the court found no evidence that the U.S. had deliberately hidden exculpatory material, noting that the ESI produced was largely searchable.