Redactions Done Right: How to Avoid the Manafort Fiasco

The attorneys for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort appear to have made a rather significant mistake in a court filing earlier this week, allowing redacted portions to be revealed by copying and pasting the text to a new document. The filing reveals alleged campaign communications between Manafort and Russian operative in which he shared polling data during the campaignan allegation that Manafort earlier denied to federal investigators.

While an essential component of litigation review, redaction mistakes are easy to make, as it’s cumbersome and time-consuming to go through a document and draw black boxes over individual words and phrases. When redaction missteps occur, it can mean trouble for attorneys and their clients—including running afoul of various applicable rules including the American Bar Association’s rule on confidentiality.

Catalyst’s Insight review platform includes redaction features that are welcome news to document reviewers. Its redaction tool enables users to make redactions within documents more easily, quickly make multiple redactions and better QC redactions after they’re made. The feature not only dramatically reduces the opportunity for human error during redaction but also saves huge amounts of time and money.

The five key time-saving features of this Insight’s automated redaction tool are:

  • Mass redactions (find and redact)
  • Text-select redaction
  • Pattern redactions
  • Page-range redactions
  • Better context of redactions

Importantly, users can make redactions within the native viewer, including PDFs, thus eliminating the need to TIFF-on-the-fly prior to making redactions.

Let’s go through each of those.

Mass Redactions

This feature combines redacting with search so that multiple occurrences of a word or phrase within a document can be redacted in just a couple of clicks.

Select items from search results to redact them in the document.

Say you want to redact all instances of a patient’s name in a document in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Simply search for the patient’s name, e.g. Mary Smith, to generate a results list in the document viewer showing all occurrences of Mary Smith within the document. To redact all instances of the name, simply click a checkbox to select all the hits, choose a reason for the redactions (such as “HIPAA”) and click Redact. That’s all there is to it. In just a couple of clicks, you’ve redacted every instance of the name.

If you don’t want to redact all of the hits, you can choose to redact only selected occurrences, by simply checking the boxes next to each item in the search list that you want to redact, selecting the reason for the redaction, and then clicking Redact.

That is a lot easier than going through the entire document, visually finding each instance, and then having to draw a redaction box over each one.

Text-Select Redaction

If you’ve performed redactions before, you’re probably familiar with the “black box”—the process of drawing a box over the portion of a document that you want to redact. If so, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be easier to just select the text with my cursor?” Now you can. The new text-select redaction feature allows you to click and drag your cursor over any portion of text to redact it. Here again, you will be prompted to select a reason for the redaction. However, you will not be prompted for a reason for subsequent redactions; the first reason you chose will be automatically applied until you change it.

Using text-select redaction, move your cursor over any portion of text to redact it.

The text-select option is in addition to the block-select option. Block redaction will continue to be Insight’s default redaction tool. For block redaction, simply draw a box over the portion of the document to be redacted and hit the redact button. As with text-select redaction, the reason you previously chose for the redaction will continue to be automatically applied.

As you view a document, buttons at the top of the viewer let you choose among the different redaction tools—block, text or full-page.

Pattern Redactions

With pattern redactions, you can automate the process of redacting pattern-based numerical phrases, such as social security numbers, phone numbers and ZIP codes. Simply identify the type of pattern you wish to redact and the tool will assist you in automatically redacting all occurrences of that pattern.

Full-Page Redactions

This feature assists the reviewer in quickly applying full-page redactions over multiple pages. The pages need not be in serial order.

To use this feature, click the Full Page redaction button at the top of the viewer, then indicate the pages to be redacted. For example, you could enter “1–2, 49–50” or you could select “All Pages.” The pages you designate will then have full-page redactions applied to them.

Better Context of Redaction

It is now easier to double-check your own redactions or QC someone else’s. At any time while you’re in a document, you can turn on opacity to see what is underneath a redaction. Toggling opacity on or off is done by clicking the “Hide Redactions” button.

When you toggle opacity on, different types of redactions show up with different highlight colors based on the type of redaction (e.g., a pattern match or list of terms).

Open the Redaction List to see and manage all redactions in the document.

With the click of another button, you can bring up a list of all the redactions that exist within a document. This list can be filtered by redaction type, so for example, if you only want to focus on QC’ing block redactions, you can filter the list to show only those. You can use this feature to navigate through redactions or to jump to a specific redaction by clicking on its hyperlink. You can also use this to edit redactions in bulk.

As a final note, redactions using any of these tools on any type of file can be output as PDF files for production.

Redaction doesn’t have to be cumbersome and time-consuming. With Insight’s Automated Redaction, even large documents can be redacted more quickly and with less effort. Not only does that make the reviewers’ work easier, but it also speeds up the overall review. And less time in review equals less cost.

 

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About Erin Tomine

Erin is a product manager for Insight Review at Catalyst, bringing her knowledge and expertise from prior roles to assist in the continued development of Insight. In the past decade, she has held various positions from review manager to senior project manager to manager of practice technology and discovery services in managed review and end-to-end e-discovery companies. She joined Catalyst from Canon Business Process Services, where she was responsible for the management of their discovery services team and was the subject matter expert to help improve their tool and provide support regarding workflow and best practices. Erin is a member of the State Bars of California and New York, is active in the e-discovery community and on the board of the San Diego Chapter of Women in eDiscovery.