The State Bar seeks public comment on Proposed Amendments to Rule of Procedure Regarding Electronic Trial Exhibits. This proposal would amend the definitions in the Rules of Procedure of the State Bar and the rules pertaining trial exhibits in State Bar Court proceedings.
Deadline: August 21, 2020
Comments should be submitted using the online Public Comment Form. [Link removed; this comment process is archived.] The online form allows you to input your comments directly and can also be used to upload your comment letter and/or other attachments.
This item seeks to update permanently the Rules of Procedure of the State Bar to permit the exchange of electronic trial exhibits. These changes will allow the State Bar disciplinary system to operate more efficiently not only during an extended period of shelter at home, but into the future.
Current rule 5.101.1 requires the parties to provide tabbed, labeled binders of exhibits to the opposing party. Proposed rule 5.101.1 permits the parties instead to provide electronic copies of exhibits to opposing parties unless a respondent establishes that they do not have a computer or cannot otherwise reasonably access electronic exhibits.
Rule 5.101.1 currently provides that each party to a State Bar Court action, in addition to providing original exhibits for the Supreme Court, must lodge with the State Bar Court two copies of all exhibits for the use of the court and witnesses. Under current rules, the two copies of exhibits lodged with the court “must be presented in a tabbed exhibit binder, which binder must bear on both its front and spine affixed labels identifying the case name and number and the identity of the proffering party.” Rule 5.101.1(D)(2). Proposed amendments to Rule 5.101.1 instead require the parties to lodge with the court only one additional copy of exhibits in either electronic or paper form, as ordered by the court.
In proposed rule 5.101.1, parties must still supply witnesses with copies of relevant exhibits, but do not need to provide each witness all exhibits. The format of the exhibits for witnesses (e.g., paper or electronic) will be as ordered by the court.
Proposed amendments to rule 5.101.1 also set forth the requirements for electronic exhibits. These requirements include that the exhibit must be capable of being read using software in the public domain or generally available at a reasonable cost, be text searchable when technologically feasible without impairment of the document’s image, and include electronic bookmarks with links to the first page of each exhibit and with bookmark titles that identify the exhibit number or letter and briefly describe the exhibit. The requirements for electronic exhibits are from rule 2.256(b) of the California Rules of Court. Under the proposed rule, paper exhibits must be presented in the same form as the current rule.
There may be an as yet undetermined impact on State Bar Court personnel.
Regulation and Discipline Committee
August 21, 2020