As none of us can forget, the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to close their brick and mortar offices with little time to adequately prepare their employees for a remote work environment. All of a sudden, in-person meetings were replaced with virtual conferences via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Amazon Chime – each leaving a new data
E-Discovery no longer dominantly involves emails and shared drive documents. With the increasing prevalence of mobile devices in the workplace and new apps being developed daily, mobile data and other non-email communications are moving to the forefront of discovery. Times have changed, and attorneys have professional and ethical obligations to keep up. To effectively and competently represent clients, attorneys must stay apprised of how to work with these ever-changing forms of data – or get help from someone knowledgeable. To do so, we have set out some suggestions below organized around common stages of the discovery lifecycle of digital evidence.
Identification. In conducting custodian interviews, ask questions to target the data types the custodian works with. Start broadly by determining if the company has a BYOD policy and asking if they allow the use of personal devices for work purposes. Confirm which messaging tools they use for business purposes, with the understanding that people tend to play down such use. For each messaging application, ask how they are used and with whom they communicate. Discuss these same topics with your client’s IT team to better understand the company’s policies and capabilities for controlling the use of personal devices, as well as employees’ actual practices.
– GN Netcom, Inc. v. Plantronics, Inc., 930 F.3d 76 (3d. Cir. 2019)
The Third Circuit’s decision in GN Netcom illustrates how Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(e) has elevated the bar to obtaining a default judgment based on spoliation, raising the question of what level of egregious conduct would justify that penalty. The decision also is notable for its exploration of the evidentiary support that aggrieved parties should be permitted to submit when the lesser penalty of a permissive adverse inference instruction is ordered. In a split decision, the appellate court granted a new trial because plaintiff’s expert was precluded from testifying as to the degree of spoliation, which might have impacted the outcome of the case.
Defendant’s Spoliation of Evidence
In conjunction with the 2015 American Bar Association annual State of Criminal Justice publication, Louisa Marion and I have published a new chapter on “Digital Privacy and E-Discovery in Government Investigations and Criminal Litigation.” The article provides an in-depth look at many of the current and cutting edge issues raised by digital privacy…