A Guide To Electronic Evidence Discovery & Its Importance


Technology is present in every aspect of modern life and it is constantly growing & nowadays business communications are done using electronic storage devices like emails, flash drives, hard drives etc. Surveys shows that more than 85 percent of all documents produced since 2000 are created in digital form.

As the technology is growing, a lot of people are exploiting these technological advances for illegal activities. Most of the time e-discovery is used in cases of intellectual property theft, sexual harassment in the workplace, fraud, breach of contract, divorce proceedings and spoliation of evidence. Here comes the Electronic data discovery which is quickly becoming the mainstream in civil discovery.

But still many attorneys are taking it seriously and some of them fail to do e-discovery. The main reason is cost & time. It is true that Electronic data discovery or also called as Electronic evidence discovery is complicated & time consuming procedure but compared to conventional methods Electronic discovery is cost effective & less time consuming.

Because of the technological advances, there are lots of new ways & tools which allow safe recovery of evidence which is normally undetectable by human eyes. A few years ago this used to cost tens of thousands of dollars for Electronic data discovery but now using new computer forensic techniques, a computer forensic expert can do it as low as five thousand dollars. Law firms are now looking for computer-generated evidence in most of the cases related to sexual harassment in the workplace, fraud, defamation, trade secret, divorce proceedings etc. There is a huge amount of electronic data that can be collected & stored to use it as evidence in court.

It is really important to know where to get professional help not just in case of electronic discovery but in any thing you do. Seeing the growing demand for electronic discovery consultants, computer forensic investigators, and litigation support services, law firms are now including all this in their list of services. A professional electronic discovery consultant can help you make effective plan for recovering & storing the evidence accurately without any loss of relevant electronic evidence. Electronic discovery consultant’s services include preparing discovery requests related to electronic documents, evaluating discovery responses and assisting in the evidence recovery, analyzing and producing of relevant electronic data in the court.

Usually it may take weeks for a civil litigant to get access to opponent’s computer systems after protests, unlike government investigators who can seize & access immediately without any advance notice. Best thing to do while hiring an e-discovery consultant is to hire one who is an attorney with litigation experience and expert in computer forensics. So he can avoid needless objections and motions and save time too.

Once an electronic discovery plan is created, its time for electronic discovery expert to see what types of relevant evidence might be found and other things like:

Computer Network Configuration

Software’s In Use

Document Retention Policies

Data Backup And Storage Locations

And the person who controls about the computer network.

After knowing about all these in detail, a document production request can be carefully crafted.

If it is found that the evidence may exist in digital form then a computer forensic examiner will collect evidence from all possible places. A computer forensics expert first creates a backup of all data contained on the targeted computer or electronic device in order to prove that it has not been altered during the examination process.

Once the backup is completed and mirror image is created, computer forensic examiner searches & analyze computer files without altering date stamps or other information because file date stamp (file creation date, last modified, or last accessed) is a vital piece of evidence . Depending on the volume of evidence to be produced, counsel may need help of a litigation support service to help in the conversion, scanning, coding and indexing of the electronic evidence collected.

Author is an international computer forensics consultant. He is president of Data Triage Technologies, LLC.(http://www.datatriage.com), a Computer forensics and Electronic data discovery firm based in Los Angeles, California .

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