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Is There a Right to Fail in E-Discovery?, by Craig Ball, Ball In Your Court Blog


Disagreements about scope and process in e-discovery shouldn’t split between plaintiffs’ and defendants’ interests. After all, everyone is a requesting and producing party, whether north or south of the ‘v.’ Yet, the reality is that most defense counsel see themselves as producing parties, and most plaintiffs’ counsel identify with requesting parties. That unfortunate alignment poisons our ability to set aside allegiances and be officers of the Court mutually determined to find the most effective and efficient means to discover evidence illuminating the issues.

Cooperation in e-discovery is derided as naive in an adversarial system of justice, and ‘discovery about discovery’ is vilified as a diversionary tactic, a modern take on the maxim, ‘if you can’t try the case, then try your opponent.’ Counsel for responding parties are quick to note that no party is obliged to deliver a perfect production. They’re absolutely right. Perfection is not the standard. But, is a producing party entitled to fail before a requesting party may inquire into the scope and process of e-discovery? Must we wait until the autopsy to question the care plan? . . . .