Caselaw Precedent

2014 Cases

  • Parker v. State

    85 A.3d 682 (Del. Supreme Court 2014)

    Where a proponent seeks to introduce social media evidence, he or she may use any form of verification available under Rule 901 — including witness testimony, corroborative circumstances, distinctive characteristics, or descriptions and explanations of the technical process or system that generated the evidence in question — to authenticate a social media post. Thus, the trial judge as the gatekeeper of evidence may admit the social media post when there is evidence "sufficient to support a finding" by a reasonable juror that the proffered evidence is what its proponent claims it to be. This is a preliminary question for the trial judge to decide under Rule 104. If the Judge answers that question in the affirmative, the jury will then decide whether to accept or reject the evidence.”

  • Commonwealth v. Koch

    106 A.3d 705 (2014)

    Recognized as the controlling legal precedent in Pennsylvania for the authentication of electronic communications. Court addressed the admissibility of cell phone text messages, and held that, “Authentication of electronic communications, like documents, requires more than mere conformation that the number or address belonged to a particular person. Circumstantial evidence, which tends to corroborate the identity of the sender, is required.”

  • Smith v. State

    136 So.3d 424 (Miss. 2014)

    In which the court held that a name and photo on a Facebook printout were not sufficient to link communication to the alleged author, where the state failed to make a prima facia case that the messages were actually sent by the defendant.

  • United States v. Vayner

    769 F.3d 125 (2014)

    Defendant was convicted on a single count of unlawful transfer of false identification documents, and he appealed that conviction. Toward the end of the trial, a U.S. Special agent introduced a print out of a web page which the government claimed was Defendant’s profile page on VK.com (a Russian version of Facebook). The Defendant objected, arguing that the page had not been properly authenticated. The case eventually made it to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where it was decided that the government did not provide a “sufficient basis” upon which to conclude that the printout belonged to the Defendant, and compared the digital account to a printed handbill, stating that if the prosecution had introduced “a flyer found on the street that contained a Skype address” and was purportedly written by the defendant, the court surely would have required some evidence that the defendant did in fact do so.

  • Commonwealth v. Banas

    5 N.E.3d 3 (Mass. App. Ct. 2014)

    A Massachusetts appellate court ruled that a Facebook post submitted by the prosecution in the form of a screenshot without additional circumstantial evidence in a recent criminal case was inadmissible as evidence. The court explained that further information beyond the screen shot itself was required to establish a proper foundation for the Facebook post.

  • Moroccan Oil v. Marc Anthony Cosmetics

    57 F.Supp.3d 1203 (2014)

    A federal district court ruled that Facebook screenshots were inadmissible. The defendant in a trademark infringement action merely offered the screenshots without supporting circumstantial information. Cited unpublished holding in ISP v. West for proposition that, “Defendant’s argument that web pages could be ‘authenticated’ by the person who went to the website and printed out the home page is unavailing.” The court in Moroccan Oil applied the same rule to Facebook screenshots.

  • State v. Snow

    57 F.Supp.3d 1203 (2014)

    Defendant found guilty of child abuse. Defendant appealed his conviction, claiming that the trial court erred in admitting a MySpace message because no foundation was established for the message, showing Defendant “sent the message, or that he alone had access to his account.” The appellate court disagreed, finding that to be admissible, a writing, like the Myspace message in this appeal, “must be authenticated, i.e., the proponent thereof must show that it is, in fact, what it is claimed to be.” The court further noted that “a document purports to have been written and signed by the person to whom it is attributed, ... standing alone, is insufficient to establish its authenticity and genuineness.” Given the circumstances of this case and outside evidence provided for corroboration and authentication, the court found that the evidence was sufficient to support a finding that Defendant authored the Myspace message.

  • Ingrid and Isabel, LLC v. Baby Be Mine, LLC

    No. 3:2013cv01806 - Document 67 (N.D. Cal. 2014)

    A trademark infringement case in which the plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s product, Belly Band, was eerily similar to their trademarked product, the Bella Band. The court compelled the defense to produce all customer comments on the defendant’s Facebook and Twitter accounts regarding the Belly Band as evidence of trademark infringement.

  • U.S. v. Hassan

    742 F.3d 104 (4th Cir. 2014)

    In which the Fourth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the government had adequately authenticated screenshots of the defendants’ user profiles and postings on social media website, but in which the court noted that it was the responsibility of the party putting forth the evidence in these sorts of cases to conclusively prove those links.

  • Moore v. State

    763 S.E.2d 670 (2014)

    In which court reiterated holdings from other precedent in stating that documents from electronic sources like Facebook are subject to the same rules of authentication as other more traditional forms of documentary evidence.

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