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There’s more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty,’ said the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry; ‘this paper has just been picked up.’ … He unfolded the paper as he spoke, and added ‘It isn’t a letter, after all: it’s a set of verses.’ ‘Are they in the prisoner’s handwriting?’ asked another of the jurymen. ‘No, they’re not,’ said the White Rabbit, ‘and that’s the queerest thing about it.’ (The jury all looked puzzled.) ‘He must have imitated somebody else’s hand,’ said the King. (The jury all brightened up again.) ‘Please your Majesty,’ said the Knave, ‘I didn’t write it, and they can’t prove I did: there’s no name signed at the end.’ ‘If you didn’t sign it,’ said the King, ‘that only makes the matter worse. You must have meant some mischief, or else you’d have signed your name like an honest man.’” — Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (1865).

Signatures matter — to fairy-tale kings and to real judges. When you or your client sign — and certify — the completeness of a discovery response, the certification can take on significance that becomes case dispositive. And in the digital age, we need to rethink how we certify.

We live in a state that requires that the completeness of discovery responses be affirmatively attested to: “The party producing documents shall furnish an affidavit stating whether the ­production is complete in accordance with the request.” Ill. S. Ct. Rule 214. And the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, of course, impose the same obligation: “By signing, an attorney or party certifies that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief formed after a reasonable inquiry: (A) with respect to a disclosure, it is complete and correct as of the time it is made.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(g). And if the rule were not clear enough, it has become increasingly common for parties to request — and for courts to grant — an express certification of completeness over and above the certification already explicit in Rule 26(g). See, e.g., Morris v. GMC, 2010 U.S. Dist. Lexis 25562 (E.D. Mich. March 12, 2010) (granting plaintiff’s motion to require certification that “production was complete.”)

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