Redactions are definitely the red-headed step children of the discovery process. Generally they are a last minute and rushed process that, too often, leads to disclosure of the information (redacting all but one of the incidences of the protected information is as bad as redacting none of them) and embarrassment for counsel. Witness the recent inadvertent disclosure of information in the Mueller/Manafort proceedings.
While the exact processes involved with the failure may not be known, clearly no one familiar with Acrobat or PDFs generally spent any time verifying that the “redactions” were permanent. If defense counsel staff had opened the relevant files in Standard Acrobat or Pro, they could have easily verified the status of the redactions (it is worth noting that one of the first tasks the journalists undertook was to determine if the redactions were, in fact, permanent. ).
To help you avoid this error (we recommend processing redactions through i-View but for those looking for a more immediate test…), you or staff should open the files in Acrobat Standard or Pro (or through the on-line app) you are about to produce and inspect the redactions using the mouse/cursor. If the cursor changes when you move it over the redactions, you might be dealing with comments or unapplied redactions rather than the permanent deletion of data that is a true redaction.
Below is some screen shots that might assist in reviewing “redactions:”
The proper way to redact images in Acrobat (at least in 10 Pro which I use. I hate PDFs but buying Pro was one of the best investments I ever made):
Click Tools (on the right side of the scree), Protection and Mark for Redaction:
Draw the area (or select Text if the text cursor appears) to be redacted. You will see the area highlighted with a Red Box. If you move your mouse over the area, the box fills in with black
You can right click on the redaction and if you select properties, you can add text to the redaction (change the redaction color, etc):
Once the Properties are updated, you need to click: Apply Redactions and you will see these messages:
Then there will be report about what additional data was stripped from the document:
Acrobat has improved its redaction processing significantly over the years but if you are dealing with hundreds of redactions across hundreds or thousands of document, managing redactions “manually” poses many challenges.
In an upcoming blog we will discuss how i-View can provide some order to the redaction process and to enhance the efficiency of your staffs’ efforts.