Exchange & Outlook UPDATE, Exchange Edition--FRCP and Why You Should Care--September 28, 2006

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*Commentary: FRCP and Why You Should Care
*Exchanging Ideas: Build an Email-Discovery Plan
*New and Improved: Ensure That Your Data Is Protected



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***COMMENTARY: FRCP and Why You Should Care
by Paul Robichaux, Exchange Editor, [email protected]

I've always enjoyed legal thrillers such as those written by Scott Turow and John Grisham. I enjoy the cut-and-thrust courtroom arguments and the sense that logic and reasoning are valuable in and of themselves. That doesn't mean that I want to be in a courtroom, merely that I find the whole concept intellectually interesting. I suspect that most messaging administrators don't want to get too close to the courtroom either. With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some proposed changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) and how they might affect your messaging environment.

The FRCP, simply put, is the rulebook for civil suits in US federal courts. It defines a uniform set of requirements and procedures for trying civil suits, thereby allowing all US federal courts to operate with a uniform standard, largely eliminating the risk that a decision in one court will be found invalid on procedural grounds in another court. Many states base their rules for civil trials on the FRCP, too. (If you're interested in seeing the FRCP rules, check out the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School at ).

The changes to the FRCP have to do with how discovery requests for electronic information are handled. For those of you who aren't law nerds, a discovery request is what you get when you're involved in a lawsuit: The other side asks you to produce relevant records in a process known as "discovery." Of course, you can always argue that your opponent is asking for things he or she doesn't need or shouldn't have; discovery arguments are a big part of most major civil litigation-and are entertaining as well.

The proposed FRCP revisions will change some aspects of how electronic information is handled. First, electronically stored information is no longer automatically excluded from discovery requests. This is a big change; it will require electronic records to be included unless otherwise specified. Another major change is that discovery requests for business records that require searches must include searches of electronically stored information, not just paper or offline archives.

My favorite change is in rule 37, paragraph (f): "Absent exceptional circumstances, a court may not impose sanctions under these rules on a party for failing to provide electronically stored information lost as a result of the routine, good faith operation of an electronic information system" ( ). This "safe harbor" clause means that companies that make good-faith mistakes in their disaster recovery planning or operations can't be penalized. Companies that act in bad faith, however, can still get hammered, which is as it should be. However, this change isn't at all settled; it might not be included in the final rules when they're adopted.

One more significant change is that parties to a civil action can claim that some electronically stored information is not "reasonably accessible" because of "undue burden or cost." Either party can argue (and no doubt will) about what's "reasonable" or "undue." However, the rules also provide for a judge to order electronically stored information production for "good cause," another somewhat malleable (and thus arguable) term.

These changes have been percolating for a while. They were proposed in April 2005, and they'll take effect (unless Congress takes action) on December 1, 2006. Attorney Michael C. Smith has a good legal summary of the changes on his blog at

Of course, I'm not an attorney, so if the legal nuances of these changes are (or might be) important to your company, you should consult with competent counsel. However, it might not be a bad idea to review what you know about electronically stored information production and retention, even if you don't ever expect to face a bevy of attorneys. It's better to be prepared than to be the model for Grisham's next courtroom thriller!


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Focus: Build an Email-Discovery Plan

Make sure you're ready to produce
More than likely, your company will have to produce saved email messages in a court case or compliance investigation. Use these ideas to develop your own email-discovery plan and learn about tools that can facilitate e-discovery for Exchange admins.

Have a question? Got answers? Join your peers in the Exchange discussion forums:
Current Threads:
Access Denied while backing up
Sharing Outlook Calendar for Multiple accounts
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Don't forget to sound off in our Instant Poll. This month's question is "In a typical work week, how much time do you spend managing SharePoint?"

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Top 10 Requirements for Effective Patch Management
Endless streams of security patches are a continuous strain on IT resources. Assessing, deploying, and tracking software patches across operating systems is even more difficult. Learn to distill the requirements for selecting an effective patch management solution. Download now!


by Blake Eno, [email protected]

Ensure That Your Data Is Protected
Double-Take Software announced Double-Take Application Manager 4.1, a unified console to manage application protection options for Exchange Server and SQL Server, which results in improved protection, reduced recovery times, and higher level of application availability. This release extends support for Exchange Servers running on Microsoft Clusters and features target data verification testing. This testing lets you test the usability and integrity of protected data in an automated way, without effecting the production environment.

Wanted: your reviews of products you've tested and used in production. Share your experiences and ratings of products to "[email protected]" and get a Best Buy gift certificate.


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