“Derogation of the Search for Truth”

Ball in your Court

search for truthIn my last post, I addressed why search terms used to cull data sets in discovery should not be protected as attorney work product.  Today, I want to distinguish an attorney’s “investigative queries” (for case assessment, to hone searches or to identify privileged content) from “culling queries” (to generate data sets meeting a legal obligation, whether conceived by an attorney, client, vendor or expert).   I contend culling queries warrant no work product protection from disclosure.

Let’s assume a producing party has a sizable collection of potentially responsive electronic information.  Producing party concludes that it would be too costly, slow or unreliable to segregate the ESI by reading everything and, instead, decides to examine just those items that contain particular words or phrases.  Keyword queries thus serve to divide the ESI into two piles: one that will be reviewed by counsel and another that no one…

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