Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What I have learned amid the ruins...

A lot of what is going in the case I am going to try tomorrow deals with computer records, emails, and telephone calls. Before I started this, I had a vague understanding that none of the above were that secure.

After wading through the stuff in this case, I now wonder why I even bother having a password for any of my email accounts. Or how anyone can ever believe a phone bill. Basically, with the right information, and a little time to work, a knowledgeable person can alter the heading information on email (sort of a "you could be Markinson" thing). Which my expert did. He has me emailing President Obama telling him that I stole a cheeseburger from him sometime prior to the election. And it works.

As far as standards of examination goes, it looks like there are almost none. Meaning, you could have two experts talking about emails, their origins, and how they migrated, and get two completely different results. And both experts, with straight faces, would be able to say that they were using practices that are generally accepted. Even the expert in the case for the other side, who was referred to by my expert as the "kind that geeks like me put up on their wall", is on record saying that the current methodology needs improvement because it just not accurate enough.

Great. So if I tear him apart on that, then my guy is just as much screwed. Lovely.

Then, the deeper I look into this, the more absurd this whole thing becomes. Let's step back for a second. One of the things that is very important when it comes to documents in the legal setting is their authenticity. In the bad old days, you had to produce the original. Copies were verboten. But as copying technology got, the more you could use copies, so long as the original was still in your possession.

Now, along comes the personal computer explosion in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Suddenly there is something new out there: digital documents and digitally stored originals. How do you verify the authenticity of this then? There's no hard copy, and each time you open the document, you subtly change it.

Well, flash forward to today. Its 2009 here in California and we just, finally got around to defining how opposing parties can get access to electronic data. Prior to this, there simply were no standards. Of course, now there is going to be a flood of litigation to establish the meaning behind the black letter law (not a bad thing, but still will be annoying for a while).

So here we are today and back to the problem in hand. With correspondence in a format that is inherently lacking in real security. And we have to establish which documents are authentic, and which are frauds. Can anyone say problem?

Oh yeah, this is going to be a joy tomorrow. Two experts. Completely opposing positions. And did I mention the judge thing? Oh yay.

Другой симпатичный день в Сталинград!/Ein anderer reizender Tag in Stalingrad! (Excuse the translation.. it might be off.. apologies if its terribly rude.)

1 comment:

Colby said...

No jury? The days of the expert witnesses in my lovely jury duty experience were the best and by best I mean I was ready to put a gun to my head. Except for the ballistics guy. He was such a nerd it was entertaining. But I still wanted the gun from the evidence as a sucicial opt-out option.