Ephemeral Letters of Transit: Responding to Government Requests for Electronically Stored Information
Winter 2007

The obstruction of justice and witness tampering convictions of former Credit Suisse First Boston tech investment banker Frank Quattrone were overturned by the Second Circuit in an extensive opinion. The prosecution of Quattrone revolved around his forwarding an e-mail urging colleagues in his department to "catch up on file cleanup" when he knew that there were pending grand jury and SEC investigations of the IPO practices of the firm. Quattrone included a message forwarding the "cleanup" e-mail stating "[I] strongly advise you to follow these procedures" related to CSFB’s document retention policy. Quattrone had been in touch with the firm’s legal department about the pending investigations, although his defense at trial was that he did not know that documents from the tech group he headed were involved in the investigations. The government charged Quattrone with violations of 18 U.S.C. Secs. 1503 and 1505, obstruction of grand jury and agency investigations, and witness tampering under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1512.

This is not an article about Frank Quattrone, although what happened to Frank Quattrone is important to the subject we are going to discuss. This, rather, is an article about figuring out how to effectively deal with government requests and demands for information in the already upon us era of electronically stored information ("ESI"). There are a couple of old bromides that are most appealing to the Luddites among us. You know them - "Ignorance is bliss" and "What you don't know can't hurt you." Those bromides no longer apply, if they ever did, at least in the context of ESI. Now, it is important to be conversant in the language and concepts of ESI - how it works, how it is stored, how it is produced, and so on.  In this era, this knowledge is critical. It can save you time, money, and manpower. In some instances, it can save you liberty or that of your employees.

View entire article in PDF format here.

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