The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently issued a Standing Order (effective March 1, 2007), revising Civil Local Rule 16-9, my good friend Robert Brownstone and his colleagues wrote in their firm's Litigation Alert. The revision addresses preservation of evidence issues, particularly important is the requirement of preserving voice mails and other "electronically-recorded material."
The requirement that routine record retention programs be suspended when litigation is reasonably anticipated or pending (commonly referred to as a "litigation hold") has been in place for some time. The express expansion of this requirement to include voice mails and other "electronically-recorded material," however, represents an important development -- particularly for corporate litigants that may encounter substantial technological and monetary challenges and limitations in stopping the erasure of voice mails. Indeed, for companies operating on older and/or proprietary voice mail systems, targeted stoppage of voice mail erasure may be impossible as a practical matter. Coupled with the December 1, 2006 expansion of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(a) to cover "sound recordings ... and other data or data compilations stored in any medium from which information can be obtained," the Northern District's new rules may present significant electronic information management challenges to companies.
(Source: Brownstone, Bob; Fenwick, Bill; Sands, Mike, "Northern California District Court Expands Information Retention Requirements.")