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Legal Memorandum: Discovery of Confidential Information

Issue: Under the laws of the U.S. Virgin Islands, should an attorney be deemed to have had access to confidential information when the information would have been freely discoverable under the Rules?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Discovery; Confidential information
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 26(b)
Date: 11/01/2007

Courts have historically provided parties wide latitude in pursuing discovery.  See United States. v. City of Torrance, 164 F.R.D. 493, 495 (C.D. Cal. 1995) (“Generally, the purpose of discovery is to remove surprise from trial preparation so the parties can obtain evidence necessary to evaluate and resolve their dispute.  Toward this end, Rule 26(b)1 is liberally interpreted to permit wide-ranging discovery of all information reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence.”); Soto v. City of Concord, 162 F.R.D. 603, 609 (N.D. Cal. 1995) (“Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter that is . . . ‘not privileged’.”).

Discovery of the records that pertain to the obligations giving rise to the issue here are freely discoverable.  See also Paulsen v. Case Corp., 168 F.R.D. 285 (C.D. Cal. 1996).  It is unlikely that any claim of privilege could be made to prohibit access to this information; therefore, even if Plaintiff’s counsel had viewed the exact records that confirm or deny the existence of these claims, and there is no claim that this is true, there can be no ethical violation, since the information was public record.


FOOTNOTES


1 Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 26(b) is substantially similar to the corresponding rule in the Marshall Islands Rules of Civil Procedure.

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