A History of Social Media Evidence

State of Connecticut v. Eleck [2011]

Unique Rules of Evidence for Digital Content?

In this landmark case, it was established that a printout of social media evidence was deemed inadmissible, and the court established that while social media evidence does not require new rules of evidence, State of Connecticut v. Eleck involved an individual getting charged with 1st degree assault from a physical altercation at a party, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years.

A witness for the prosecution testified against the defendant, and claimed that she had not spoken to the defendant in person, by telephone, or by computer since the assault, but prior to the altercation the defendant had told her that “if anyone messes with me tonight, I am going to stab them”. The defendant sought to undermine her credibility by showing that she had exchanged Facebook messages with the defendant.

Evidentiary Requirements- What does the document claim to be?

9-1(a) of the Connecticut Code of Evidence, echoing the Federal standards of Rule 901(a) Federal Rules of Evidence, provides that the `requirement of authentication as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the offered evidence is what its proponent claims it to be’; in simpler terms, a prima facie showing of evidence of which a reasonable juror could determine that the document was what it claimed to be.

Standard Rules of Evidence v. New Rules for New Content

The court in this instance held that the existing rules of evidence are sufficient to deal with evidentiary issues raised by social networking evidence, stating that the creation of unique rules of evidence for electronic communications would be unnecessary, and to evaluate content on a case by case basis as with traditional evaluation of evidence should suffice.

[w]e see no justification for constructing unique rules for admissibility of electronic communications such as instant messages; they are to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as any other document to determine whether or not there has been an adequate foundational showing of their relevance and authenticity.”

The court found that while electronic communications can present distinctive issues, they “may continue to be authenticated by traditional means such as the direct testimony of the purported author or circumstantial evidence of `distinctive characteristics’ in the document that identify the author.” 

Role of WebPreserver

WebPreserver is an innovative eDiscovery tool, essential for the effective and easy creation of evidence from social media and preservation of digital content for litigation purposes; an essential cost and time effective tool for legal professionals, litigation support and law enforcement officials.

With the easy installation of a Plug-in and single-click capture technology, WebPreserver software creates snapshots of evidence from any content place in the internet and stores them in PDF and WARC formats for use in litigation. Digital content is authenticated in line with Federal Rules of Evidence, the E-Sign Act and other standards of compliance by way of a digital e-signature and automated time-stamp.

Not only is strong, reliable evidence created form online content, WebPreserver software also provides secure resources for the archiving, preservation and sharing of this content. Once a Snapshot is created, it can be downloaded or stored on our online platform and shared with clients and colleagues in personal folders, with the additional features of keyword tagging.

Ensure that when engaging in litigation you maintain a high standard of records management and technical compliance; WebPreserver is a simple but effective means of doing this. Avoid sanctions and additional administrative and Discovery costs with the proper utilisation of this leading eDiscovery software.

The information and materials on this blog are provided for general and informative purposes only and are not intended to be construed as legal advice. Content on this blog is not intended to substitute the advice of a licensed attorney, as laws are subject to change and vary with time, from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Content on this blog may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct or up-to-date.

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