Forensics and Electronic Discovery: Proportionality of Document Review

Many people feel, particularly those in the criminal sector, that every document in a case needs to be reviewed. Certainly, there is a push for every document with a “key word hit” to be reviewed

The response to anybody pushing for that should be simply to ask “Why?”.

If a man steals a book from a library, the police will look at the book he has, check with the library to see if its stolen and that’s it. Nobody would suggest that every book in the library or checked.

If a home is broken into and the scenes of crime officer attends he finger prints certain areas.  The points of entry/exit, property that has been moved, draws that have been opened, door handles etc. He does not fingerprint the ceiling, nor does he fingerprint the shower, or light bulbs. The scenes of crime office does not call in  scaffolding company, at costing thousands of pounds, to get on the roof and fingering the chimney stack, just in case the burglar used a Santa Claus style techniques to get into the house.

No, the attending fingerprint officer uses a reasoned approach proportional to the crime.

Despite this why do some people insist in an unreasoned approach to reviewing documents. Why the fear of electronic documents?

Every document does not need to be read in all cases. If there are 10 documents, then yes, they should all be read. but if there are 10 million? Then it would have to be a mass murder to justify that sort of review.

Methods exist to cull data from keyword searching to near de-duplication and concept searching. A reasoned approach to all of these methods should be taken, not just a blanket yes or no to any one.

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