GUEST-POST | eDiscovery Update: Special Masters and eMediation


By Peter S. Vogel

Special Masters can help Judges and parties in eDiscovery disputes and also reduce the cost of litigation. Also managing eDiscovery can be improved by using eMediators who can help simply eDiscovery disputes and reduce motion practice. My recent article in the Texas Lawyer discusses some of the benefits of eMediation and Special Masters in eDiscovery. Over the past 20 years I have served as a Mediator and Special Master in computer technology and Internet lawsuits, and since there is electronic evidence in every case my experience is that Mediation conference and using Special Masters can make eDiscovery less expensive.

Court Ruled that Special Master in Anna Nicole Smith Abused Trial Court’s authority

A California defendant challenged Texas jurisdiction, but the Judge had not determined if the Court even had jurisdiction, as a result the trial court violated the Texas Special Master appointment Rules by authorizing the Special Master to get the defendant’s hard drive and conduct a a complete search. This was the second time that the same appellate court ruled that the trial court exceeded its authority to appoint a Special Master in this high profile case. There are always limits on the authority of what a Special Master can do in a case which should be spelled out in the Order Appointing the Special Master. Notwithstanding the outcome in this case surely we will see more cases with Special Masters since there is so much electronic evidence.



Peter S. Vogel is a trial partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP where he is Chair of the Electronic Discovery Group and Co-Chair of the Technology Industry Team. Before practicing law he worked as a computer programmer, received a Masters in Computer Science, and taught graduate courses in information systems. For 12 years he served as the founding Chair of the Texas Supreme Court on Judicial Information Technology which is responsible for helping automate the Texas court system and putting Internet on the desktops of all 3,200 judges. Peter has taught courses on the Law of eCommerce at the SMU Dedman School of Law since 2000. Many of Peter’s topics are discussed on his blog

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