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Court Orders Production of Handwritten Worksheets Underlying Database, in Light of Demonstrated Data Entry Errors

Posted in CASE SUMMARIES

MacNamara v. City of New York, 2006 WL 3298911 (S.D.N.Y. Nov 13, 2006)

This case is one of many arising from the arrests of approximately 1,800 people during the Republican National Convention (“RNC”) in New York City in the summer of 2004. This decision addressed plaintiffs’ motion to compel the city to produce certain documents and electronically stored information. Among other rulings, the court granted plaintiffs’ request for production of certain arrest worksheets used in connection with the city’s Online Booking System ("OLBS"). The OLBS worksheets contained handwritten information regarding the arresting or assigned officer’s recollection of the events that preceded the arrest. The information on the worksheet is subsequently entered into the OLBS, often by someone other than the officer who filled out the worksheet. The city argued that the plaintiffs’ request for OLBS worksheets for non-party arrestees was duplicative, since the information sought could be found in database printouts the city had already agreed to produce. However, plaintiffs contended that “significant errors, edits and omissions” occur at the data entry stage, and that the information contained in the handwritten worksheets sought may therefore differ from that in the database printouts, which contained only the information actually entered into the OLBS. The court found that an example cited by plaintiffs supported their contention, and ordered production of the worksheets subject to an "attorneys’-eyes-only" designation.

Ruling on a separate request, the court sustained the city’s objection to plaintiffs’ request for "[a]ll electronic data concerning RNC arrests" maintained by various entities, finding it to be impermissibly vague.