Court Adopts New E-Discovery Guidelines Effective November 27, 2012

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is pleased to announce new Guidelines for counsel and litigants regarding the discovery of electronically stored information (“ESI”). The Guidelines were developed by a bench-bar committee chaired by Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte in partnership with the Court’s Rules Committee and unanimously approved by the entire Court.

Counsel and litigants should familiarize themselves with the Guidelines and immediately begin using the revised Standing Order for All Judges of the Northern District of California when preparing case management statements and the Checklist as appropriate when meeting and conferring.

The Guidelines are designed to establish best practices for evidence preservation in the digital age and to ensure that local practices regarding the discovery of ESI keep pace with rapidly evolving technology and to be flexible enough to be used in a wide variety of cases. According to Judge Laporte: “These tools are designed to promote cooperative e-discovery planning as soon as practicable that is tailored and proportionate to the needs of the particular case to achieve its just, speedy and inexpensive resolution, consistent with Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”

The package of new ESI-related documents comprises:

  • Guidelines for the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information;
  • ESI checklist for use during the Rule 26(f) meet and confer process;
  • Model Stipulated Order Re: the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information.

View the ESI Guidelines and related documents.

Knowledge of the Guidelines and a report on whether the parties have considered entering into a stipulated e-discovery order are now mandated by the judges' uniform Standing Order and use of the Checklist is strongly encouraged. Judge Laporte explains: “The Court requires counsel to be familiar with these tools and confirm in the initial case management statement that they have reviewed the Guidelines regarding preservation and decided whether to enter into a stipulated order governing e-discovery, in light of the Model Stipulated Order.”

To that end, paragraph 6 of the Standing Order for all Judges of the Northern District of California requires, effective November 27, 2012, that all Joint Case Management Statements include:

A brief report certifying that the parties have reviewed the Guidelines Relating to the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information (“ESI Guidelines”), and confirming that the parties have met and conferred pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(f) regarding reasonable and proportionate steps taken to preserve evidence relevant to the issues reasonably evident in this action.

Parties are also encouraged to use the Model Stipulated Order as the foundation for the Rule 26(f) meet-and-confer process. The Court hopes that the Model Stipulated Order will be a widely-used tool for litigants just as the court-approved Stipulated Protective Orders have been in patent and other cases.

The Court thanks and commends the ESI Advisory Committee for its excellent work on these important Guidelines and related tools for litigants: 

  • Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte (Chair)
  • Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu
  • Kathryn Dickson, partner, Dickson Geesman
  • Stephanie Mendelsohn, Director of Corporate Records & E-Discovery, Genentech Corp.
  • Ed Reines, Partner, Weil Gotshal & Manges
  • Joseph Saveri, partner, Saveri Law Firm
  • Neill Tseng, Assistant United States Attorney & Electronic Discovery Office Coordinator

View the ESI Guidelines and related documents.