TAR allows timely pre-confirmation review of Kavanaugh documents

Thursday, September 6, 2018

As Judge Brett Kavanaugh faces the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee during the second day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, debate rages on Capitol Hill if sufficient time is available for senators to substantially review the 42,000 documents released the night before his hearing was scheduled to begin concerning his time in the George W. Bush White House.

photo of Maura Grossman“Even if a legion of trained reviewers were available, a thorough substantive review of tens of thousands of pages of legal documents would be a tall order,” said Maura Grossman, research professor at the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. “But with the Continuous Active Learning™ for technology-assisted review process my colleague Professor Gordon Cormack and I developed, finding documents of interest quickly — in a matter of hours — is possible.”

The 42,000 Kavanaugh documents that were released on September 3, 2018 are confidential and therefore are not publicly available, so Grossman and Cormack did the next best thing — they ingested the publicly released Kavanaugh documents available on the Senate Judiciary website into an online search tool that uses their Continuous Active Learning™ TAR.

“We had previously done the same thing with Jeb Bush’s and Tim Kaine’s emails,” Grossman said. “Unfortunately, the Kavanaugh documents were not separated into individual documents, so they appear in the tool as single pages, but they can still be searched more efficiently than by an exhaustive manual review.”

“It’s exciting to see how electronic discovery technology is modernizing the legal profession and allowing quick analysis of vast quantities of data,” said Dan Brown, Director of the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. “I already connected to the tool that our colleagues Maura Grossman and Gordon Cormack built, and started searching for documents relevant to Kavanaugh’s work on Ken Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton.”

In addition to being a research professor in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, Grossman is principal of Maura Grossman Law, an eDiscovery law and consulting firm based in New York, NY. Before joining the University of Waterloo, she was of counsel at the prominent law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

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