ADMISSION OF ELECTRONICALLY STORED INFORMATION INTO EVIDENCE

May 29, 2012 § 3 Comments

Emails, cell phone text messages, FaceBook LinkedIn and MySpace posts and the like, electronic bulletin board comments, metadata, internal organization communications, computerized business and public records and documents, websites, chat room content, computer animations and simulations, digital photographs, market reports and commercial publications …

… all are finding their way into our court proceedings on a more frequent basis. That’s because people are increasingly using these forms of electronically stored data to communicate, do business, save information, and promote their businesses and personal interests.

Chancellor Ed Patten made an informative presentation to the chancellors at the Spring judges’ meeting that introduced us to the evidentiary concerns that are raised by all of these electronically stored data.

Just about everything you need to know about introducing these items into evidence is analyzed in the case of Lorraine v. Markel American Insurance Co., 241 F.R.D. 534 (USDC Md. 2007), a 58-page opinion that exhaustively considers all aspects of admissibility, including authentication, hearsay, best evidence rule and more. It’s a federal case, but the rules that underpin it are, for the most part identical to, or nearly identical to, the MRCP and MRE.

The decision also elucidates various rules that allow authentication by admission, which should give you some ideas about using requests for admission and depositions to do that job for you in discovery while you’re fishing for other info.

If you have a case involving introduction of these kinds of evidentiary matter, I encourage you to read the Lorraine decision and find the analogous Mississippi rules. If you use the latest MISSISSIPPI RULES ANNOTATED or do a little digging, you can come up with a few cases to toss onto the bench once the other side objects. The judge will be impressed and gratified (and maybe surprised) that a lawyer has done that homework before trial, so much so that you will likely get those documents into evidence.

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