New York’s unique approach to evidentiary procedure – and specifically, its rules governing admissions by a party opponent’s agent – have frustrated litigators for years. Recent changes to New York’s rules on civil procedure, however, have brought the state’s approach to hearsay more in line with the standard set by the Federal Rules of Evidence. These changes could significantly impact future litigation, especially disputes centered on workplace conduct.
In our previous post, Under Armour Inc. Pulls Sales Forward, SEC and Stockholders Push Back, we discussed Under Armour Inc.’s recent settlement with the SEC, under which Under Armour agreed to pay $9 million for alleged violations of federal securities laws. While that settlement marked the end of…
Should Titanic’s Box Office release or the debut of Harry Potter already be described as events from the ancient past? It would hardly seem so. But, the amendment to the ancient documents exception to the rule against hearsay contained in Fed. R. Evid. 803 (16) suggests otherwise. Fed. R. Evid. 803 (16) provides that statements in an ancient document are not excluded by the rule against hearsay (Fed. R. Evid. 802) if the document’s authenticity can be established. See Rule 803 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Prior to the recent amendment, Rule 803 (16) described ancient documents as documents “at least 20 years old.” As amended, Rule 803(16) limits the ancient documents exception “to statements in documents prepared before January 1, 1998.” Id. The use of a January 1, 1998 cut-off avoids having the identification of what is an “ancient document” be a moving target. The Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules (“the Committee”) recognized that Fed. R. Evid. 803, left as is, soon could have become “a vehicle to admit vast amounts of unreliable electronically stored information (ESI),” as the twenty year lookback period crept forward into the age of electronic documents. The Committee was specifically concerned about the risks created by the unreliability of older ESI, in combination with the “exponential development and growth of electronic information since 1998.”
On December 1, 2017, two amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence came into effect that impact how courts authenticate digital evidence. The addition of two categories to Rule 902’s list of self-authenticating documents seeks to streamline the introduction of digital evidence by avoiding costly delays that often serve little purpose. In doing so, it promises greater efficiency to those who adapt their practices to the new requirements.
Rule 902(13) waives the requirement of external authentication for “records generated by an electronic process or system,” provided that the accuracy of the process or system is certified by a person who meets the qualification requirements of 902(11) or (12). Examples of such records provided by the Advisory Committee include an operating system’s automated log of all USB devices connected to the computer, or a phone software’s machine-generated record of the time, date, and GPS coordinates of each picture taken.
I. The Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product Doctrine in the United States and Abroad
The attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine are important and well-known concepts to nearly every lawyer in the United States. Generally, the attorney-client privilege shields from disclosure confidential communications between attorneys and clients for the purpose of seeking or rendering legal advice, while the work product doctrine guards documents or other tangible things prepared in anticipation of litigation by or for a party.[i] The United States affords litigants and lawyers relatively broad protections under these doctrines through the Federal Rules of Evidence and Civil Procedure or, as appropriate, analogous provisions under state law.