Court Rule on Electronic Discovery
The Council on Judicial Administration, Committee on State Courts of Superior Jurisdiction and E-Discovery Working Group collaborated on comments to the Office of Court Administration on proposed rules to require counsel to confer on e-discovery issues prior to the preliminary conference whenever a case is reasonably likely to involve electronic discovery. The comments are generally supportive of the proposal, noting the importance of counsel addressing issues relating to discovery of electronically stored information (ESI) at the outset of the litigation. The comments include several recommended amendments to the Rules that would (i) include reference to the burden as well as the cost of e-discovery; (ii) include as a consideration whether ESI is reasonably accessible; (iii) include a provision that parties should confer as appropriate should ESI issues arise after the conference; and (iv) clarify some of the phrasing in the Rules. The comments also acknowledged that OCA has undertaken efforts to train judges and court personnel regarding ESI issues and stressed the importance of extensive training with periodic updates, to keep pace with changes in this rapidly developing area.
New York State’s Judiciary Budget
The Council on Judicial Administration issued a report recommending that the Legislature adopt the Judiciary’s 2013-2014 Budget Request en toto. According to the Report, the Budget carefully balances the need to meet the courts’ constitutional obligation “to provide fair and timely justice for every New Yorker” with the realities of the current fiscal situation. The Report applauded the $15 million increase in funding for vitally needed civil legal services. It also discussed some of the difficult choices the Budget reflects, and stressed that while the Budget provides the minimum funding the Judiciary needs, avoiding any reduction in the budget is crucial. The Report concludes by saying New York State’s already strained court system cannot continue to be expected “to do even more with even less.”
Redaction of Personal Identifying Information
In comments submitted to the Office of Court Administration, the Council on Judicial Administration expressed general support for the adoption of 22 N.Y.C. R.R. §202.5(e)(“Proposed Rule”), which would prevent the unnecessary disclosure of personal identifying information in papers filed in civil matters. The report set forth a number of suggestions on how to further improve the Proposed Rule, including: 1) urging that the Proposed Rule not serve to override or undercut the efficacy of the Chief Clerk Memorandum 172 (“CCM-172”), issued by the Chief Clerk of the New York City Civil Court, which requires the clerk to redact social security numbers from any document filed with the New York City Civil Court; 2) amending the definition of confidential personal information by deleting “a mother’s maiden name”; 3) that any sealing of documents containing confidential personal information pursuant to the Proposed Rule be in accordance with the current requirement of 22 NYCRR §216.1 that any sealing must be no broader than necessary to protect a threatened interest; and 4) special efforts to protect unrepresented and unsophisticated litigants from the risk of identity theft.