Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Burlington Northern v. District Court (9th Cir. - March 31, 2005)

This is an important case for anyone who litigates in federal court, and addresses the all-too-frequent practice of many lawyers of asserting privilege objections without production of a privilege log. Judge Goodwin finds that this practice doesn't automatically waive the assertion of privilege, but simultaneously holds that, in the present case, this fact plus the failure to provide the promised log for another five months permits the district court to conclude -- as it did here -- that the defendant had waived its privilege objection, thereby requiring it to produce all of its privileged documents. Which is a definite warning to anyone who continues the practice.

There's other good stuff in here as well, including a (seemingly approving) reference to the order entered by the district court below that required defendant to organize its production of documents to correspond to particular requests rather than merely produce boxes and boxed of unorganized material. It's always nice when an appellate judge demonstrates familiarity with the trials and tribulations of the grunt associate (or sole practitioner) who's forced to slog through obstreperous discovery. As Judge Goodwin does here.