Even though there is a large focus on electronic discovery in the litigation support industry, we can’t forget about the hardcopy documents that are collected during the discovery process. We usually end up scanning and OCRing the hardcopy documents and then loading the corresponding data into a review database. The attorneys can then search the OCR text and view the document images in the database.
Occasionally there is an attempt to remove duplicate copies of hardcopy documents before they are sent out to the vendor for scanning. In deciding whether a hardcopy document is a duplicate or not, there is a particular criteria that comes into play. If two documents are exactly the same except for the addition of a handwritten note on the face of a document, the document is not a duplicate. For instance, if someone wrote in the top right corner “File Copy”, the handwritten note is considered “marginalia” and the document would not be considered a duplicate. Other examples would be if there is a handwritten note in the left margin of the document, or if there are handwritten edits throughout the text of the document, or if there is highlighted text.
Marginalia is a very old term that originally referred to handwritten comments in the margin of a book.