Ethics

Ethical issues presented by ESI.

June 23, 2022

Alleged “Win-At-All-Costs” Tactics in Defense of Exoneree Lawsuits for Wrongful Conviction Damages

Two recent articles describe alleged “win-at-all-costs” tactics in defense of wrongful conviction lawsuits in Baltimore and Chicago.  They point to, on the one hand, allegations of damages claims for unreasonable amounts by exonerees and, on the other, alleged scorched earth defenses costing millions of dollars and subjecting exonerees to unreasonable indignity. I […]
June 22, 2022

Secret Moonlighting, by Attorney in Plaintiff’s Law Firm, as a Document Reviewer for Defendant, Does Not Result in Disqualification of Plaintiff’s Firm

In Troyce Manassa v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, 2022 WL 2176334 (S.D. Ind. June 16, 2022), a motion to disqualify counsel was denied.  Plaintiffs are represented by the law firm of “FeganScott.”  They sued the NCAA. “Upon learning that a FeganScott staff attorney moonlighted as a document reviewer for the NCAA in […]
May 20, 2022

Sanctions for Discovery Misconduct

The ABA reports that a Judge criticizes ‘nasty litigation tactics’ while sanctioning BigLaw firm (abajournal.com)[1]  Sanctions were based on statements the court deemed to be untrue and deposition conduct the court deemed to be unprofessional and rude.[2] The court wrote: After considering all the evidence and arguments, I find that Stryker failed […]
April 29, 2022

Deposition Errata Pages in Maryland

An excellent article by Brian A. Zemel, All Things Errata (americanbar.org)(ABA Apr. 19, 2022), addresses the scope of changes a deponent may make to an errata sheet. He explains: If the deponent’s submission is procedurally valid, counsel should then determine whether the witness’s changes were substantive and whether the jurisdiction permits such changes. […]
April 29, 2022

“Friending” by Undercover Police Officer

Much has been written about “friending,” especially deceptive friending or friending of represented parties, in the civil litigation context. For example, under Philadelphia Bar Association Professional Guidance Committee Opin. 2009-02 (Mar. 2009), an attorney or those supervised by the attorney may not use deceptive conduct to access an unrepresented person’s social media […]
April 27, 2022

Proposal to Lift Geographic Limits on Practice of Law – Implications for ESI

The ABA recently reported on a proposal that Lawyers should be able to practice law in any state, says group urging ABA model rule change (abajournal.com). The proposal appears especially well-suited to ESI.[1] The author, Debra Cassens Weiss, reports that “[t]he proposed rule change by the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers emphasizes the concept […]
April 21, 2022

Sedona Conference “Selected eDiscovery and ESI Case Law from 2021-22”

Philip J. Favro, Esq., has edited the just-published “Selected eDiscovery and ESI Case Law from 2021-22” (The Sedona Conference 2022).  This is an excellent resource in an always-changing field. Phil’s work runs the gamut of topics, including cooperation, ephemeral messaging, ESI protocols, ethics, Fed.R.Evid. 502(d), privilege logging, redactions, litigation holds, social media, […]
April 15, 2022

Attorney’s Duty to Protect Smartphone Data

“An attorney who stores the confidential identity of their clients on a smartphone must not consent to share contact information with an app unless that information won’t be shared with any human, the New York State Bar Association said.” D. McAfee, New York Bar Outlines Attorneys’ Duty to Protect Smartphone Data (bloomberglaw.com) (Apr. 13, […]
April 10, 2022

Ethics: More Remote Misconduct

I have written about Misconduct in Remote Trials and Misconduct in Remote Depositions. In the words of Yogi Berra, “it’s deja vue all over again.”  Improper Texting During Remote Testimony Can Result in Significant Consequences to Litigants and Lawyers | Publications | Insights | Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. Traci McKee […]
March 31, 2022

40th State Adopts a Duty of Technological Competence – Is It a Good Idea?

Although the ABA’s “technological competence” standard is a good “first step,” it could be improved.  Simply telling attorneys “be competent” – – with no further guidance or implementation – – does little to advance the ball.  Several articles make this point and suggest the need for additional specificity, education, and greater emphasis […]
February 5, 2022

Ethics: Misconduct in Remote Trial

I recently wrote a blog Ethics: Misconduct in Remote Depositions. The ABA Journal has provided an example of misconduct in a virtual trial.  D. Weiss, “Lawyer is suspended for coaching client using chat function during virtual trial” (ABA Journal Feb. 1, 2022).  Ms. Weiss reports that: “An Arizona lawyer has consented to a two-month […]
December 9, 2021

“Old” Sedona Paper Implements the “Specificity” Provision of Discovery Responses

In New Sedona Primer Implements the “Bull’s Eye View” of Discovery Requests, I discussed the recent “public comment” version of Sedona’s Primer on discovery requests.  Here, I discuss Sedona’s 2018 “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(b)(2) Primer: Practice Pointers for Responding to Discovery Requests,” 19 Sedona Conf.J. 447 (2018), in conjunction with […]
December 8, 2021

New Sedona Primer Implements the “Bull’s Eye View” of Discovery Requests

The Sedona Conference has released its “Primer on Crafting eDiscovery Requests with ‘Reasonable Particularity’” (Nov. 2021, Public Comment Version). The Primer is a valuable contribution.  It gathers a substantial body of research in an easy-to-read, authoritative resource.  It focuses entirely on discovery requests, not responses, and does so in depth.  And, it […]
November 29, 2021

Ethics: Misconduct in Remote Depositions

This blog addresses two remote deposition issues: 1) coaching by text messages; and, 2) coaching behind a COVID face mask. “A Florida lawyer has been suspended for 91 days for texting advice to a witness during a phone deposition and then failing to come clean when questioned by the opposing counsel and […]
November 28, 2021

Sanctions: Litigant Recently Testified That He Did Not Know What a “Litigation Hold” Was

Sanctions were imposed in DG BF LLC v. Ray, No. 2020-0459 (Del. Ch. Nov. 19, 2021).[1] The court dismissed a fraud and retaliation lawsuit for discovery abuse.  Among other issues, plaintiff testified that he did not know what a “litigation hold” was, even though defendants sent a preservation demand to him. It […]
November 28, 2021

Sanctions for: Failure to Impose a Litigation Hold; and, for Removing Zoo Animals After Notice of Inspection and Without Cooperative Communications

Collins v. Tri-State Zoological Park of Western MD, Inc., 2021 WL 5416533 (D. Md. Nov. 19, 2021), centers on allegations that defendants maintained a public nuisance by the neglect and ongoing mistreatment of animals residing at defendants’ zoo. On the spoliation issue, “Plaintiffs allege … that Defendants not only failed to issue […]
August 27, 2021

Waiver of Work Product Protection in Deposition Preparation Sessions

In Johnson v. Baltimore Police Dept., 2021 WL 1985014 (D. Md. May 18, 2021) (Boardman, J.), the Court addressed waiver of work product protection by showing documents to a third-party witness in deposition preparation. Twice before the deposition, plaintiff’s counsel showed three documents, several photographs, and one audio file to the deponent.  […]
July 23, 2021

Plaintiff Sanctioned for Spoliation of Automobile Engines Due to Inadequate Implementation of Litigation Hold

In Hyundai Motor Amer. Corp. v. N. American Automotive Svcs., Inc., et al., 2021 WL 3111191 (S.D. Fl. Jul. 22, 2021), sanctions were imposed against the plaintiff, Hyundai Motor America Corp. (“HMA”). At bottom, HMA failed to follow basic, well-established procedures to implement a litigation hold, and crucial evidence then went missing.  […]
May 13, 2021

Damage Control Method

Bloomberg Law reports that a company has allegedly mishandled potentially important emails in a 70,000 person class action.  J. Feeley and D. Glovin, “Sanofi Accused of Destroying Emails Tied to Zantac Recall” (Bloomberg May 11, 2021).  The potential spoliator’s response is instructive. In the products liability action, plaintiffs allege that the defendant’s […]
March 16, 2021

Electronic Communications to a Class Action Advertising Web Site Deemed Not Privileged

Top Class Actions (“TCA”) ran a website “that provides information, among other things, about class actions, class action settlements, and class action investigations.”  The site contained attorney advertising and articles concerning class actions and mass torts.  Defendants served a subpoena on TCA seeking, among other things, communications from claimants and with law […]
March 12, 2021

Can a Lawyer Ethically “Reply All” to an Opposing Client?

New Jersey Ethics Opinion 739 (Mar. 10, 2021), again points to the dangers of copying one’s client on communications to opposing counsel. I discussed the ethical dangers of attorneys using “reply all” in a prior post.  If an attorney “cc’s” the attorney’s client on a communication to opposing counsel, what happens when […]
February 12, 2021

“[I]t is no longer amateur hour.”

In a February 11, 2021, post,   Court Enforces Strict Sanctions For Failing To Be Competent In ESI Obligations | Farrell Fritz, P.C. – JDSupra , the author describes the sanctions decision in In DR Distributors, LLC v. 21 Century Smoking, Inc., a trademark dispute over electronic cigarettes, stating: As noted by Judge Johnson, “[i]t […]
January 4, 2021

The Ethical Dangers of Attorneys Using “Reply All”

In a May 2011 post, I discussed Computer Usage Policies and the “Reply All” Button. A recent article has expanded on that discussion.  Erika Stillabower, “The (Ethical) Risks of ‘Reply All’,” The Washington Lawyer (July/August 2020), 54. Ms. Stillabower describes situations where opposing counsel “cc’s” that attorney’s client on an email.  She […]
December 19, 2020

Judicial Postings on Social Media

A few months ago, a Tennessee judge who was going through “a rough time” in his life, was publicly reprimanded for sending inappropriate messages to women on social media platforms. Some of the messages pictured him in a judicial robe.  D. Weiss, “Judge is reprimanded for ‘flirtatious to overtly sexual social media […]
December 1, 2020

When is a Litigation Hold Notice Discoverable?

A recent ABA practice point described Radiation Oncology Servs. of Cent. N.Y., P.C. v. Our Lady of Lourdes Mem’l Hosp., Inc., 2020 NY Slip Op 20133, ¶ 2, 69 Misc. 3d 209, 126 N.Y.S.3d 873, 875 (Sup. Ct.) (decided June 9, 2020) (Masler, J.). In Radiation Oncology, the court addressed when a litigation hold […]
November 28, 2020

The Duty to Preserve Continues Even After Production of Social Media

In Faulkner v. Aero Fulfillment Services, 2020 WL 3048177 (S.D.Oh. June 8, 2020), the court held that deactivation of a LinkedIn site after it had been downloaded and produced breached the duty to preserve that ESI.  However, the sanction was limited to an admonishment due to the absence of prejudice. The problem […]
November 27, 2020

Rule 26(g) Sanctions for Failure to Supervise Document Collection and Review

In Optronic Tech, Inc. v. Ningbo Sunny Elec. Co., Ltd., 2020 WL 2838806 (N.D. Cal. June 1, 2020), sanctions were imposed against defense counsel, essentially because the court determined that trial counsel had attempted to hand off their Rule 26(g) obligations to their client’s inside counsel. There were several key points.  Defense […]
May 12, 2020

Publication of M. Berman, et al., eds., ELECTRONICALLY STORED INFORMATION IN THE MARYLAND COURTS (2020)

I am pleased to announce the publication by the Maryland State Bar Association of M. Berman, et al., eds.,  ELECTRONICALLY STORED INFORMATION IN THE MARYLAND COURTS (2020). This book is intended as a practitioner’s handbook addressing primarily – but not exclusively – how ESI is addressed in Maryland State courts, comparing and […]
July 30, 2011

American Bar Assoc., Publishes Berman, et al., Managing E-Discovery and ESI

The American Bar Association has  published M. Berman, C. Barton, and P. Grimm, eds., Managing E-Discovery and ESI: From Pre-Litigation Through Trial.  The 761-page work features chapters by The Hon. Paul W. Grimm (D.Md.), The Hon. John M. Facciola (D.D.C.),  The Hon. James C. Francis IV (S.D.N.Y.), and The Hon. Joseph F. […]