I defended my dissertation October 29, 2012 – and it was accepted. Bellow is the abstract along with a video demo of the Discere tool I created as part of my research.
Following changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 2006 dealing with the role of Electronically Stored Information, digital forensics is becoming necessary to the discovery process in civil litigation. The development of case law interpreting the rule changes since their enactment defines how digital forensics can be applied to the discovery process, the scope of discovery, and the duties imposed on parties. Herein, pertinent cases are examined to determine what trends exist and how they effect the field. These observations buttress case studies involving discovery failures in large corporate contexts along with insights on the technical reasons those discovery failures occurred and continue to occur.
The state of the art in the legal industry for handling Electronically Stored Information is slow, inefficient, and extremely expensive. These failings exacerbate discovery failures by making the discovery process more burdensome than necessary. In addressing this problem, weaknesses of existing approaches are identified, and new tools are presented which cure these defects. By drawing on open source libraries, components, and other support the presented tools exceed the performance of existing solutions by between one and two orders of magnitude. The transparent standards embodied in the open source movement allow for clearer defensibility of discovery practice sufficiency whereas existing approaches entail difficult to verify closed source solutions.
Legacy industry practices in numbering documents based on Bates numbers inhibit efficient parallel and distributed processing of electronic data into paginated forms. The failures inherent in legacy numbering systems are identified, and a new system is provided which eliminates these inhibiters while simultaneously better modeling the nature of electronic data which does not lend itself to pagination; such non-paginated data includes databases and other file types which are machine readable, but not human readable in format.
In toto, this dissertation provides a broad treatment of digital forensics applied to electronic discovery, an analysis of current failures in the industry, and a suite of tools which address the weaknesses, problems, and failures identified.