Using Facebook and Social Media Evidence at Trial

Every morning I wake up and check the headlines on Law.com and the Law Technology News.  It seems everyday brings more headlines on the use of social media and other electronic evidence at trial.  Whether it’s prosecutors trying to ‘friend’ potential jurors or attorneys turning to social media for evidence to use at trial, the Internet holds massive amounts of information.

The first thing I read about yesterday was a court in Pennsylvania that would not allow unauthenticated text messages to  be admitted as evidence at trial. The court cited a number of decisions from jurisdictions around the country which have held electronic communications to the same authenticity standards as paper evidence.[1]  This is yet another decision that helps to define the evidentiary boundaries of admissible electronic communications.

Even though there is this vast wealth of information on the Internet, the question becomes – how do you ethically obtain and use this electronic information at trial?  Facebook has become a virtual treasure trove of information for attorneys … but there is very little guidance on how to best deploy this electronic evidence at trial.

If you need help in determining how to best obtain and deploy social media evidence, trial attorney Dan Gilleon provides firsthand experience in Finding and Obtaining Electronic & Social Media Evidence at Trial.  In the course, Mr. Gilleon utilizes case examples from his own practice and addresses ethical issues with social media evidence, how Facebook pictures were used in the Brian Giles case, finding information on Facebook, prejudicial vs. probative electronic evidence, how to get this evidence in at trial, authenticating pictures and other electronic evidence and subpoenas.

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[1] The court turned to In the Interest of F.P., where the court decided that circumstantial evidence may be used to authenticate a document “where the circumstances support a finding that the writing is genuine” – whether the document is electronic or otherwise.