Hi. My name is Ron Hedges. I am a Visiting Research Collaborator with the CITP for 2010-11.
Let me tell you a little about myself. I am a graduate of the University of Maryland and Georgetown University Law Center. I spent over twenty years as a United States Magistrate Judge and sat in Newark, NJ. I came to the Center through my work with the use and abuse of electronic information in civil litigation in the United States Courts. Several years ago, I wrote a decision on the subjects of “preservation” and “spoliation” electronic information. That led me to The Sedona Conference, a think-tank of academics, attorneys, and judges who focus on electronic information and other things. Today, I’m on a Sedona advisory board and work on, among other things, confidentiality, public access, and electronic information in criminal actions. For information on Sedona, go to www.thesedonaconference.org.
This year, I hope to work with the Center to update something Sedona did a few years ago on confidentiality and public access in civil litigation. Our society prizes two conflicting values: openness in our judicial system and protection for matters of personal privacy and “protected” information. Examples of the latter are trade secrets and personal medical information. How we as a society reconcile openness and protection in civil litigation was the theme of The Sedona Guidelines on Confidentiality and Public Access, published in March of 2007. This document is not focused on electronic information and offers only general guidance on access to electronic information managed by courts. I hope to use my time at CITP to conduct a symposium on confidentiality and access and to move The Sedona Guidelines forward.
Another project for 2010-11 would be to consider the automation of the review of electronic information for “relevance” and “privilege.” Relevance is a simple, but often misunderstood, concept. To be relevant, information must tend to either prove – or disprove – something. Privilege is also simple, but often misunderstood. To be privileged (in a broad sense), information must be either subject to either the “attorney client privilege” or “work product.” Privileged information need not be turned over to an adversary and, if it is turned over, there can be serious consequences. Not surprisingly, human review for privilege is estimated to account for about half of the cost of litigation.
The “holy grail” of litigation is to come up with an automated process or processes for relevance and privilege review that is reasonable. The process must also be something that can be explained to laypeople (i.e., judges and lawyers). Research is being spearheaded by NIST, and I hope to have CITP sponsor a program on automated search that would feature, among others, Jason Baron of NARA and Maura Grossman of the Wachtell firm. They have led the NARA initiative and are prominent exponents of automated review.
Finally, I hope to offer a symposium or class to introduce technology-oriented folks like you to the intricacies of the law as it deals with electronic information.
Please give me your thoughts as we move toward the Fall semester.