Peden Digital Forensics supports civil litigation matters

Digital Forensics importance in civil litigation cases

Carol and Kevin have been involved in the many civil litigation cases around the country since beginning their career in 2004. In many of those case, companies have computers imaged to preserve the integrity of the evidence for the litigation proceedings.  Often this is at the direction of the governing court.

Once the evidence is preserved, analysis are routinely conducted to either defend against or support allegations of wrongful activity.  Having experts who know how to comb through voluminous data and present that in a manner which is easy to understand is invaluable.

Digital Forensics

The field of Digital Forensics is an ever evolving area of computer science. With new hardware, software and expanding operating systems being introduced everyday within the computing world, it is vital that forensic experts continually strive to remain educated in with the trends and changes in the our field.

Digital Forensics is the act of collecting data contained on digital media and conducting in depth examination of this media so that findings can be documented and presented to the trier of fact in the presiding court.

This data can contain a variety of information which can substantiate alibis, show motive or opportunity, show physical location, or even show who was using the device during the alleged time period. Some of the civil cases which we have been involved in  would include:

  • Theft of trade secrets
  • Sexual harassment in the work place
  • Improper computer usage
  • School District issues to include teacher misconduct
  • Wrongful/accidental death cases
  • Slander/ Defamation of character

While the above list is not all inclusive, it is an excellent example of the range of cases in which digital forensics could be the grain of sand which tips the scales of justice. If you are unsure as to what value a forensic examination could make in your case, please contact us and discuss the particulars.

So what type of media can contain digital evidence? Generally, data can be stored on any electro-magnetic storage devices as well as a variety of optical disks. Some of the devices commonly known to store data are:

  • Internal and External Hard Drives
  • NAS (Network Attached Storage) storage devices
  • Thumb-drives
  • smart cards / camera cards
  • GPS devices
  • Smart phones / cell phones / Ipods / mp3 players
  • Tablets and portable devices
  • gaming consoles (play stations / XBox)
  • CDs / DVDs and for the very old school floppy disks.

Expert Consulting

Navigating the legal system in the area of Digital evidence can be a daunting task. As the laws surrounding digital evidence increase in their complexity, it becomes vital that attorneys understand the information they are being presented with. This is where an expert consultant becomes invaluable.

Experts in the field of Digital Forensics have had huge opportunities to participate in court proceedings both as a witness and as a consultant. Having this experience assist the expert in anticipating case strategy and potential pitfalls which may exist in a given case. In our experience, having a person with you throughout the trial is crucial.

Another important function of an expert consultant is to provide a balance to the opponent’s expert. While many experts deliver their testimony professionally and without bias, some do not. When experts testify with bias, they tend to exaggerate or stretch the truth to effect the outcome towards their bias. Having a qualified consultant present who has performed a forensic examination on the media, knows the facts of the case, and understands the standards within the forensic community can help keep the testifying expert on task.

Lastly, an experienced consultant can assist your case by providing opinion on case strategy, jury/member selection, forum, depositions… While some of these opinions may not relate specifically to digital forensics, they can prove valuable if based on past experience.

When looking for an expert consultant, find out what the expert’s practice is when it comes to trial. Are they there to assist only in their area of expertise or as a member of the trial team for the duration of the trial?

Expert Testimony

Testifying in trial is an art. It takes years to master the skill of presenting a complicated topic to persons who may be lacking technological sophistication. It is vital that your expert can present the findings of a forensic examination in a professional and accurate manner to the trier of fact in your case.

Digital evidence can be complicated and is often explained by experts in a manner that is above the comprehension level of the audience. It is vital that your expert can explain computer processes, language, and procedures at the comprehension level of the listener.

As you are speaking with your expert, are you understanding what they are saying? This should be an indicator for you as to the ability of the expert to communicate in an effective manner.

In addition to being able to communicate in an effective manner, it is imperative that the expert is believable. When the expert is testifying, is he/she speaking in a confident manner that does not come across as arrogant. I have seen horrific results based not on what an expert said but how they said it. Generally this comes into play when the expert is testifying with a desire to “win” the case for their side.

Expert witnesses are there to assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence at issue. They should testify without emotion and in a professional manner. In my experience, the most effective witnesses are those that answer the proposed questions in a direct and honest manner.

At Peden Digital Forensics, we have testified in many trials over many years. We have learned to be effective from both great witnesses and those who were not as great. In addition, we have debriefed with attorneys as well as judges as to our testimony and it’s delivery. Each time we testify, we improve in our abilities which makes us better to assist you in your case.

Learn more about our team