The Seventh Circuit on October 1, 2009, launched phase one of a unique electronic discovery pilot program. The goal of the pilot program is to encourage parties to engage in early and informal information exchange on commonly encountered issues relating to electronically stored information, as required by Rule 26(f)(2).
The first act of the pilot program was to develop a set of principles to respond to growing concerns over the rising cost and burden of pretrial discovery. The second act of the program—and the most noteworthy—was development of a mechanism to test efficacy of the principles.
The principles will be tested during phase one of the program, which will occur from October 2009 to May 2010. Individual district court judges, magistrate judges and bankruptcy judges in the Seventh Circuit agreed to adopt the principles and implement them through standing orders in selected cases. The principles, adopted as standing orders, will serve as supplemental procedural guidelines.
Following the implementation stage will be an evaluation period—where litigants and judges will complete questionnaires evaluating effectiveness of the principles. Results of the questionnaires will then be presented and refined as necessary at the Seventh Circuit annual meeting in May 2010. Phase two will immediately follow with a formal presentation of the findings and issuance of the final principles in May 2011.
The principles largely reflect the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules and recent publications by such authorities as the Sedona Conference, which call for increased cooperation among parties. By implementing and testing these principles, the Seventh Circuit has an opportunity to accomplish meaningful change in pretrial discovery.
The Seventh Circuit Electronic Discovery pilot program Statement of Purpose and principles can be found here.