One would hope that every lawyer engaged in litigation is aware that specialist experts exist who can collect data from computers in a manner which will stand scrutiny in a court. Actually, I have no such hope, since I come across lawyers who have either never applied their mind to this subject or who think that forensics is a deeply mysterious black art, or perhaps part of the syllabus at Hogwarts.
The collection of data in a forensically sound manner is only a part of of skills and services available from a forensics expert, the criminal courts are not the only place where you might need such skills, and computers are not the only source of evidence which is digital. Many civil and, indeed, matrimonial, cases require such evidence; data involves more than documents; and computers are far from the only source of digital material. Last, but not least, you may need the service of such an expert to disprove an allegation made against a client as much as to prove a case.
it may not be immediately obvious that there is a connection between the recent civil disturbances in the UK and the work of a forensic expert. You may be interested in an article published this week in the Manchester Evening News and headed Hi-tech methods that will catch Manchester rioters about the work which CY4OR is doing to help the police identify those responsible for the disorder. That involves enhancing CCTV images as well as collecting data from the telephones and computers of those suspected of involvement. Nor does the investigatory work end with the suspects’ own devices – social media like BlackBerry Messenger or Facebook, as well as eBay, are possible sources of information relevant to every aspect of alleged involvement in the riots, from encouraging others to join in through the actual events and on to the tracing of stolen goods.
CY4OR have their own article about this here. One hopes that riots will not be a regular component of a lawyer’s work, but high-profile incidents like this serve as a reminder of the very wide range of evidence which can be collected – or rebutted – by the use of a forensics expert.