Supreme Court rule addresses electronically stored information

May 29, 2003

The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday addressed the production of electronically stored data in civil litigation. The court amended its rules to cover electronic formats such as e-mail and other forms of electronically stored information.

Information is exchanged between adversarial parties in civil litigation in a controlled process referred to as discovery. The Supreme Court on Thursday amended the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure to include "electronic or magnetic data" along with documents and other data which may be produced in discovery.

New language in the rule sets parameters for the request and production of electronic data and addresses who bears the cost of that data production.

The new rule says, "To obtain discovery of data or information that exists in electronic or magnetic form, the requesting party must specifically request production of electronic or magnetic data and specify the form in which the requesting party wants it produced. The responding party must produce the electronic or magnetic data that is responsive to the request and is reasonably available to the responding party in its ordinary course of business. If the responding party cannot - through reasonable efforts - retrieve the data or information requested or produce it in the form requested, the responding party must state an objection complying with these rules. If the court orders the responding party to comply with the request, the court may also order that the requesting party pay the reasonable expenses of any extraordinary steps required to retrieve and produce the information."

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Edwin L. Pittman said the discovery rules were originally written to deal with paper documents. The increasing reliance on electronic documents prompted the court to revise the rules to cover those formats.

Pittman said, "What this does is it allows the trial judge to develop some parameters. It can change the burden of cost" in producing information, Pittman said. "It's going to have a salutary effect."

A copy of the rule changes is available on the Supreme Court's web site,