How to Use eDiscovery in Your Legal Case

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How to Use eDiscovery in Your Legal Case

ediscovery2How much time do you spend online? According to a recent report by Zenith Optimedia, online media takes up around 490 minutes per day for the average adult. This consumption is sure to rise as the lines between our online and offline lives merge.

What you may not realize is just how much evidence you and others leave behind of your behavior online. If you’re in the midst of a legal case, it’s important to understand how much evidence pertinent to your case may exist online and what to do about it.

In this blog, you’ll learn what eDiscovery is, its relevance to legal disputes and how to make use of it in your own case.

What is eDiscovery?

Good question. As our digital lives have expanded, so has the amount of information we leave behind. The sort of paper trail is sometimes to referred to as a digital footprint. If you’ve spent any sort of time online, you have a digital footprint. The content that makes up this trail may include photos, text messages, social media updates, emails, website history, forum postings and more.

As for eDiscovery, this is litigation phase in a legal dispute. During this time, the parties involved exchange information and evidence deemed relevant to the case at hand. The definition typically extends to include the process of locating, securing and searching of electronic data for a criminal or civil case. This process is typically carried out on an individual computer or electronic device but may be performed across a network.

You may have also heard of cyber forensics. In this form of eDiscovery, the contents of a hard drive are analyzed for the purpose of an investigation.

Why Does This Data Matter?

The process of eDiscovery centers around an investigation. Paper documents may also be included in an investigation. However, it is often much easier and fruitful to analyze electronic data. Its medium makes for easier searching, and it is more difficult to destroy or hide this information.

Furthermore, a quick overview of our daily lives will highlight just how prevalent digital documents are. How many emails have you sent or read in the past day? How many letters have you received or written? For most of us, our digital footprint far exceeds our physical paper trail.

For criminal cases, there may be evidence of the planning of the crime and even its execution in text messages. In civil disputes, such as a divorce, there may be evidence of adultery found in photographs and phone calls.

How Can eDiscovery Be Used in My Case?

Any electronically stored information (ESI) can be used in a lawsuit or criminal investigation if it is deemed relevant. This information includes video footage, websites, audio files, etc. First, the data is identified by the parties involved in the litigation and placed under a legal hold.

A legal hold is enacted to protect the data and prevent it from being damaged, erased or destroyed. The attorneys will then set the scope of the eDiscovery and search parameters. Next, the data is examined to find and extract relevant data, held in a database and hosted in a secure environment.

It’s important the steps below are followed according to forensic procedures:

  • Identification: In this first step, the ESI is identified, and relevant sources are considered.
  • Preservation: The identified information is isolated and stored to be legally defensible. Steps are also taken to make sure the information is not destroyed or changed in any way.
  • Processing, Review and Analysis: In this third step, irrelevant and unnecessary information is isolated. The relevant ESI is reviewed and processed.
  • Production: This step is what people tend to think about when they hear eDiscovery. The ESI is collected, prepared for and delivered to the court.
  • Presentation: Findings related to ESI is presented at the trial. The ESI is usually presented in a PDF and TIFF form.

If you believe you may have ESI that is relevant to your case, it is important to talk with your attorney immediately to begin the process and find a qualified provider of eDiscovery services.

At Prudential Associates, we provide a full range of eDiscovery solutions and litigation support services. Our unique combination of cutting-edge technology and decades of computer forensics experience sets us ahead of other eDiscovery providers.  For more information, please contact us today!