Discovered on Demand, Litigation of Business | Business of Litigation

Preserving Gmail for Dummies

Awesome news! On the path to no reason not to request ESI in smaller cases or even every case!

Ball in your Court

gmail_GoogleI posted here a year ago laying out a detailed methodology for collection and preservation of the contents of a Gmail account in the static form of a standard Outlook PST.  Try as I might to make it foolproof, downloading Gmail using IMAP and Outlook is tricky.  Happily since my post, the geniuses at Google introduced a truly simple, no-cost way to collect Gmail and other Google content for preservation and portability.  It sets a top flight example for online service providers, and presages how we may use the speed, power and flexibility of Google search as a culling mechanism before exporting for e-discovery.

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Civilized Proceedings, Discovered on Demand

The Neverending Battle . . .

record-and-archiveNew amendments have been proposed again to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Once again, the proposals have the goal of limiting discovery and the burden and expense that goes along with it. As the Judicial Conference described the recommendations from the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that were sent to the US Supreme Court this week:

The proposed changes seek to reduce litigation costs and delays by encouraging early case management by judges, increased cooperation among the parties, and the proportional use of discovery based on the needs of the case.

pending-rulesYou can find the proposed civil rule amendments here: Pending Rules Amendment page. And if you really want to learn more, you can review a memo describing the changes here: Proposed Amendments.

The most interesting aspect for me is the increased involvement of Judges early in the discovery process to try and keep it under control. I have not found a Judge yet that wants to be more involved with the discproposed-amendmentsovery process in civil cases.

I think it may be what is needed (or at least should be tried) to reign in the out of control and overly broad discovery process that results in a a lot of time and money being consumed while providing information that is not even colorably relevant to a case.

But I have my doubts that after 4 decades of trying to alter discovery under the procedural rules that this will have much of an impact even if it is adopted by the SCOTUS and Congress allows the amendments to the rules. I hope so, but we’ll have to wait and see . . . Even if all goes as planned, the amendments won’t go into effect until December of 2015.

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Civilized Proceedings, Discovered on Demand, Litigation of Business | Business of Litigation

Monday Morning Subpoena Blues

Not the Best Way to Start Your Week

(Monday Morning 8:07 a.m.)

our receptionist walks in and hands you an envelope. As you open it up, you recognize the format and see the word SUBPOENA printed on the first page. The receptionist says someone just handed it to her and left . . . didn’t say a word.061314_1453_MondayMorni1.png You know you have no lawsuits going on. The last one settled last month. You paid the lawyer’s invoice. That pain is still vivid. It’ll be a hundred bucks just to call him about this! And then he’ll answer every question with a question. Twist it around and into a question.

Duces Tecum

(Monday Morning 8:12 a.m.)

Scanning the crisp paper quickly, your glasses slip down your nose. You focus on the names. Bold. Black. Names. Don’t know who they are. Looking it over closer, you see something is scheduled? A deposition? Not again! Oh, the custodian‘s deposition? Must mean the janitor. Isn’t “maintenance man” more correct? Luke? Yeah, Luke.Wonder what he did? Custodian! He cleans and maintains – He doesn’t custody! The stark letters form words that look like English, just not the everyday kind of English. Subpoena Duces Tecum. Must be some special subpoena.

 Duces Tecum? D-u-c-e-s Tecum. Duces T-e-c-u-m. D-u-c-e-s- T-e-c-u-m?

Duke’s Dilemma

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(Monday Morning 8:15 a.m.)

Oh, wait. The maintenance guy’s name is Duke. Not Luke! Duke Tayler . . . or something or other? Dukes Tatum? Deuces Takem? Ducks Teacup? You toss the envelope aside—not you this time.When Duke gets in you must tell him. Poor guy. After staring at it for far too long, you give in and pick up the envelope again. You pull the papers out and iron them flat. Date and time. Only a week away. Hope Duke can find a lawyer by then.

Records Recalled

(Monday Morning 8:17 a.m.)

Flipping the page, there’s a description of what’s wanted. Sounds like a project you did a year ago. Sounds the same. Maybe longer than a year? Why would the janitor have a project file like this? Moonlighting? Stealing company secrets? Yeah right.061114_0714_MondayMorni2.png It sure is specific. Horowitz & Associates. Horowitz? Horowitz? The Horowitz file! “To Custodian of Records: You are commanded to appear with all documents in your possession and under your control, relating in any way to the transaction between . . . .” Custodian of Records? Of Records! It wasn’t the janitor. It’s like custody. The Custodian of The Records! It’s not Duke. It’s you. Again. Damn it. Alright. You get it now. But where would that file be? And a week? Only a week? And if not? Then what? Duces Tecum! 

Confidences Collide

(Monday Morning 8:20 a.m.)

The way the subpoena is worded it seems like they want documents that are not related to the project too. Some documents listed are full of confidential information. Your confidential information. No one sees that except you and some ofTop_Secret_glossy the senior managers. And only when they need to. Need-to-know basis only. Some of it i s the client’s financial records. You can’t just hand that over . . . Can you? Do you have to? Maybe you should call Horowitz first? Is that legal? Duces Tecum?

Publicly Proprietary

(Monday Morning 8:22 a.m.)

Oh boy. This covers more than finances. It covers Horowitz’ processes too. Didn’t you sign something saying you would not disclose that information? And if you did there’d be hell to pay? Horowitz’ competitors would love to see this stuff. Proprietary systems and designs. The procedures and process. The underlying data. Trade secrets. Hell, your competitor’s would like to see your stuff in that file too. It’s not like Horowitz’ records, but . . . If it’s a lawsuit it’s public, right? Anyone can see it? That can’t be allowed. Can it? They can’t just do this! Or can they? Damn lawyers.

Disrupted

(Monday Morning 8:37 a.m.)image

Last time you spoke to Horowitz was the day the deal closed. It was fourteen-sixteen-some months ago. You don’t know if you can, or should, or want to call him. Just look through the files first. Figure out what’s really in there. It might not be nothing. Maybe you’re the wrong custodian and don’t have the right records? Maybe it’s a mistake? Know soon enough. Duke’s on his way out to the off-site storage. But it will still take time to find the file. You could just call the lawyer who signed the Subpoena? Won’t have to pay for that. Can you trust him? What if he tricks you? Not good. Dunce To-sum? It’s already disruptive and may jeopardize your relationship with a good client. This is the last thing you want to deal with right now. What do they think gives them a right to do this? You did nothing wrong. Horowitz? Maybe. But the deal is closed. Done. Over with. Maybe you should have returned the original file to him? Maybe that should be the new policy. And who’s paying for this wasted time? Duke doesn’t work for free! And he bills his mileage at the IRS rate. Twenty five miles to the gallon at fifty six cents per mile? Gas ain’t $14.00 a gallon! And he takes the long way back every time, too.

Instruct and Define

(Monday Morning 8:41 a.m.)

cautinAs you’re looking for your good pen on your desk, you notice a page sticking out from the envelope the subpoena came in. Must’ve missed it. Sticking out from the envelope is the stapled corner of another document. Pulling it out while unfolding it, you read the title, “Schedule A—Instructions and Definitions.” Hmm? They already asked for the whole damn file, what more could they want? The boxed up file is all you got. Wondering what more there might be, you read Schedule A’s Instructions and Definitions. The everyday words, “Instructions and Definitions” now sound foreboding.

Every Stupid Item

(Monday Morning 8:44 a.m.)

With your stomach already burning it slowly starts to churn. You look at what is on the last, and almost overlooked, pages. You read through the Instructions and Definitions. Twice. To be certain. Okay, they want every piece of paper related to the file. I get it! But gawd. For real?  There is no way! For the third time, you slowly read the paragraph again (hoping it may have changed):

 . . . all electronically stored information (ESI). You have an obligation to keep all potentially relevant internal and external emails sent or received. Email must be preserved in electronic format, regardless of whether hard copies of the information exist.

      All devices with either magnetic core or solid state random access memories should be immediately placed in a litigation hold and preserved until further notice. Remove all backup drives, tapes or other media out of regular rotation. Due to its format, electronic information is easily deleted, modified or corrupted (i.e., by data compression, disk de-fragmentation, or optimization routines). ESI must be produced to retain the associated metadata. When produced, it should be in native format and include single page TIFF files, Bates Numbered with OPT and DAT load files retaining all associated file. 

serverIT begins

(Monday Morning 8:53 a.m.) Your computers? Okay. You get it. You’ll call the IT guy too! What the hell is TIFF? And OPT DAT? Sounds like some pop star or a military acronym used only during wartime. What is the IT guy’s number filed under? Computer . . . Something … Tech … Something …Team? He’ll know what to do. He’s so damn expensive he better know what to do. Not as expensive as the lawyer. But sometimes the IT guy makes things worse. Way worse. He does make them better, but first it’s worse. Actually, the lawyer does that too. What is it with . . . oh no. You haven’t paid the IT guy’s invoice since . . . shoot! It’s at least ninety days past due. Is he going to even take your call?

So many questions?

got-a-question-1398184097TUB

(Monday Morning 8:56 a.m.)

Where do you even start? What do you have to do and by when? What happens if you don’t do anything or don’t do it on time? Do you have any rights? Can you get more time? Do you really have to give some random attorney access to your company’s trade secrets? To your client’s secrets too? It’s proprietary and valuable. He’ll fire you. Can your client sue you if you comply and hand over his trade secrets? What if you signed an NDA? Is this all public information now? Can all of our competitors can just go take a look and see it? And access to your servers? Are the computers going to be down? How are you supposed to get anything done and meet deadlines? Should you even have your employees come into work? Do you just send everyone home for the next week? Can you even stay open at all? And who is paying for all this down time? And the IT guy? And the lawyer? And the copying? And Duke’s mileage? Do you have any options? How much of this burden do you have to bear ? Do you have any rights at all? Phone-keypad183

What to do? 

(Monday Morning 9:01 a.m.)

The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath. Then call your attorney. And not too deep a breath. You need to call your attorney now. You have rights. You have options. You won’t be ruined by this. But the Rules are particular. You have to know what they are and how they work. The Rules authorizing subpoenas also protect you. But you need to know how to use them. You have no time to dawdle. Call. Your. Attorney. Now.

To be continued . . .

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Discovered on Demand, Legally Educated, Publicly Recorded

MNCIS–Minnesota Court Information System

Court Records–More Than You’d Think

Minnesota Trial Court Public Access websites, mote commonly known as “MNCIS,” (Minnesota Court Information System), are a powerful and cost-effective tool for discovering information on anyone involved in the Minnesota trial court system. MNCIS has docket information for Minnesota civil and criminal court cases, judgment records and court calendars. All of these records can be used to determine if an individual has existing, unpaid judgments, is being sued, or has been sued, if there is a criminal court case open, at least one that has resulted in a conviction or guilty plea, if there has been a divorce, child custody case, adoption, name change, probate proceeding and what time and where a court appearance is through the court calendars, and other information.

Free (taxpayer funded) on the Internet

Although MNCIS on the web (Click HERE for Access) is not reliable enough for comprehensive searches and should not be used as your only criminal background check tool (more to come, but in the meantime enjoy this try www.mncriminals.com instead, technically still “free” but slowly and surely being overrun with ads and pay options) it can tell you if a warrant is out for someone. You only need to know the person’s name, but not necessarily even the correct spelling. When performing a search by Party name, try checking the box for Soundex-a  “sounds like” search in English for use when you do not know the proper spelling of a name).

Privacy Concerns

Although you used to be able to get more information, privacy concerns have restricted some data available over the internet on MNCIS, However, when one hand taketh the other hand giveth: A lot of the records that are not available on the web version of MNCIS can be obtained by going to a courthouse and using (for free) the court’s public access computer terminals.

As a non-exclusive example, you can get some home addresses this way with a just name search if the person has been through the court system in a civil or criminal matter. On the web-based MNCIS, you cannot get pre-conviction records (“innocent until proven otherwise”). But at the courthouse you can get the  pre-conviction records for criminal, traffic and petty misdemeanor cases. Likewise, the Violence Against Women Act, a federal law, prevents MNCIS on the internet from displaying information on harassment and domestic abuse cases, but these records can be obtained at the courthouse.  

Garbage In Means Garbage Out

There are errors, people have the same names, records are not always reliably entered or available and the search engine in MNCIS makes you appreciate Google on a whole new level. The current civil court case records are pretty reliable and accurate but be careful of how much you relay on any single source of public data always confirm the information through another source. Or three if possible.

MKT

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Discovered on Demand, Legally Educated, Litigation of Business | Business of Litigation, Publicly Recorded

LOCATING ASSETS–MINNESOTA BUSINESS FILING RECORDS

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Information Available

Businesses are generally required to maintain some records with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office in order to enjoy the legal benefits of being a corporation or for an out-of-state company to lawfully conduct business in Minnesota.  Sole proprietors also commonly file assumed names or “doing business as” information with the Secretary of State’s office.   Secured creditors also file various secured interest documents, which may provide information regarding any liens or other secured interests in a debtors’ property.  As is true for all public record information, business-filing records are only as accurate and up to date as what was provided to the government.  That being said, a great deal of identification, location and ownership information may be obtained from the Secretary of State’s records.  

Access to Business Registration Information 

The Minnesota Secretary of State’s office is located at: 

Minnesota Secretary of State

180 State Office Building

St. Paul, MN 55155 

And may be contacted by the following means for business registration information:

Phone: (651) 296-2803, Toll Free: 1-877-551-6767 Office Hours: 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

www.sos.state.mn.us 

A simple phone call or visit to their website will obtain information about a registered business.  Information available includes proper entity name, registered addresses for service of process (if provided), persons registered to accept service of process (if provided), business location, type of entity, good standing status, year of formation, filing numbers, etc.  All of this information may provide valuable information in locating debtors and their assets.  It is also helpful for properly effecting post judgment remedies.

Access to Secured Transaction (UCC) and Tax Lien Recordslocked money

UCC filings and tax lien filings may provide a wealth of information about particular debtors’ location and assets.  Those records are maintained by the Secretary of State’s office and are accessible in person, by mail or on the Internet.  All manners of access have a minimal processing fee associated with the documents’ retrieval, photocopying and mailing. 

The Minnesota Central Filing System is a combination of the Secretary of State’s office and 80 individual county satellite offices.  Certified searches and inquiry searches (UCC-11 requests form available at http://www.sos.state.mn.us/uccd/ucc11.pdf) can be requested from any county filing office or the Secretary of State’s office. The results provided are inclusive of all county offices.

In order to do a fully comprehensive search, it is recommended creditors’ counsel does not only rely on what is provided by the State.  A much better practice is for creditors’ or their representatives to conduct their own search of the State’s records.  The main point is to run differing name variations searches on the same company.  Of course, this may be done by driving to the Secretary of State’s office, or via its website for a yearly access fee.

MKT

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Attorneys & Lawyers & Counselors, Discovered on Demand, Litigation of Business | Business of Litigation, Publicly Recorded, Technically Lawful

Blog Cheating a/k/a The INTRODUCTION TO LOCATING ASSETS

I’m going to post some stuff I already have written. It is interesting and topical for this blog; maybe even educational. But it will be recycled (at least for me–that’s the cheating part). The first version was written circa 2003, updated every year or two, with the last revision in 2010.

I know this is highly unusual, but tonight I will post the part called INTRODUCTION and then the next section BUSINESS FILING RECORDS. If I don’t lose all my readers, we can progress from there. I’ll watch the analytics.  Without further ado, here comes the title (the INTRODUCTION is right after that part):

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Post Judgment Creditors’ Rights

Uncovering Assets

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PUBLIC RECORDS

Information is the oxygen of the modern age.

Ronald Reagan (b. 1911), former U.S. President. (London, June 14, 1989).

A.            INTRODUCTION 

Locating, retrieving and analyzing debtors’ assets is one of the most important aspects of successfully collecting a debt. Finding debtors’ assets can be difficult, time-consuming, expensive and not always fruitful.  But finding debtors’ assets is the first step in successfully collecting a debt.  Since many debtors hide assets or deny the existence of assets, it is generally a wise practice to dig up some information from public records prior to contacting a debtor.  Accordingly, this guide is designed to provide a method that may be utilized to provide a creditor or a creditors’ agent/representative an effective and economical way to find debtors’ assets.

Just like anything else, locating debtors’ assets can be done in a variety of ways, including physically going to governmental record depositories and researching and copying any asset information uncovered.  Some agencies even provide a great deal of information with just a phone call.

Computer assisted public record access and research has greatly expanded in recent years. It may be done via private and governmental pay subscription, computer-based systems. A couple of private service providers are Westlaw (www.westlaw.com) and Lexis-Nexis (www.lexis.com). Both of these providers are expensive, but for any firm collecting numerous debts it is an invaluable resource. 

Governmental Internet websites are rapidly expanding what information they provide. Many of these websites still provide information for free, but it appears there is a definite trend to charge (usually minimally) for access to the information via the Internet.  

The following is not an exhaustive discussion on access and research into Minnesota’s public records. It does discuss a few valuable resources for locating debtors’ assets and how to obtain that information via computer, telephone, mail or the good old “going down to the courthouse.” It is written as a primer for finding public record information.   

 

More to come.

MKT

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Appealing Appeals Applied, Attorneys & Lawyers & Counselors, Constitutionally Civil Rights, Contractually Bound, Discovered on Demand, Fraudulently Fooled, Legally Educated, Litigation of Business | Business of Litigation, Technically Lawful, Uncategorized

New Name–New Logo–Same Firm

MKT Law-LOGO

Practical Counsel | Aggressive Protection | Creative Solutions

A Blog about Litigation and Business

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