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LEGAL CAREER INFORMATION YOU CAN USE
Forensics Experts and the Law [Danielle D. Hansen, J.D.] You may not think of it now, but at some point in your legal career, you may need to consult with an expert in the ﬁeld of forensics. However, this is no longer limited to murder cases and DNA evidence that you may see on CSI each week. The new ﬁeld of “technical forensics” involves the ever-growing computer world, and you may ﬁnd yourself relying on them or other forensics experts in cases where their input may prove useful.
This week at Law Crossing, we will discuss
is erased, but computer forensic experts are
irritating for virtually anyone who thought
the different types of forensic sciences, how
able to collect this information nonetheless.
he or she was safe simply by clicking on the delete key.
a forensics or technical expert could assist you in your research, and the basic legal evi-
Thus, an expert could assist you in any case
dentiary concerns surrounding forensic evi-
where a computer is involved. In our modern
Electronic Evidence Companies
dence. A general knowledge of forensics can
world, it’s hard to imagine any crime that
After transferring data to a CD or DVD, the
absolutely help you in your legal career, and
does not involve a computer in one way or
evidence then goes to an electronic evidence
it should not be taken lightly just because
another. We’ve all recently heard of high-
company, who can neatly organize, sort, and
you’re not litigating DNA-related cases.
profile cases where defendants used the
index the information into a readily usable
Internet to plot maps of their actions, to
format. You may not need this service if
Luckily, there are many CLE programs ad-
check weather reports, to stalk via email,
the quantity of digital information is small
dressing forensic evidence. We would recom-
and to hack into the computers of others.
or manageable. However, many times you
mend taking such a course. You have to take
The list goes on and on, and a computer fo-
may encounter a virtual mountain of digital
a certain amount of CLE anyway, right? So,
rensics specialist could be used every single
information. In this instance, the services
it’s a win-win situation. You fulfill your state
time. There are also white-collar crimes,
provided by an electronic evidence company
bar requirements and learn some things that
civil cases, and menial disagreements like
would prove invaluable.
could affect the way you practice and how
divorce. Whenever an aggrieved person
you search for evidence.
needs to prove that someone communicated
Larger data-collection firms will provide both
with someone else in a less-than-ethical
forensic experts and electronic evidence-col-
way (such as a wife proving that her husband
lection services. Otherwise, you will need to
We live in a world run by computers. We rely
sent flirtatious emails to his secretary 40
search for two different reputable firms with
on them for basic communication, record
times a day), a computer undoubtedly will be
the proper certifications, experience, and
keeping, bill paying, and even entertain-
knowledge. Depending on where you live, you
ment. In the U.S. alone, more than 3.5 trillion
may find several right near your office, or
emails are transmitted per day. Comput-
A forensic technologist is a computer expert
you may have to scour the Internet and find
ers have become extensions of ourselves;
who is able to uncover, collect, group, and
one in a nearby city. As we all know, evidence
they track our actions and leave a digitally
record any digital information. You simply tell
must be collected properly in order to be
imprinted copy of our daily lives. Computer
them what type of evidence or information
admissible, and the companies with the bet-
forensic experts are able to collect this data,
you are hoping to uncover. After setting your
ter reputations will also know this and keep
which can make or break your case.
parameters, the expert will find the appli-
meticulous records of all their actions.
cable data and provide you with the informaMoreover, they are able to uncover electronic
tion. They can recover long-deleted files.
When searching for a legitimate digital
data that was thought to be deleted. Digital
They can find whatever websites a person
forensics expert, analyze their professional
footsteps of mistakes, misdeeds, actions, and
visited. They can tell when a person logged
resumes and specifically look for certifica-
communications are unearthed long after
onto a computer, sometimes providing
tions, length of experience, how many times
they are forgotten…long after you “think”
people with alibis in this manner.
the expert has testified, and in which courts
you deleted them. Many people mistakenly
the expert has qualified. There are hundreds
assume that once they hit delete or empty
There is very little information that they
of certifications, and one can easily be misled
their recycle bin, then their digital footstep
cannot discover, and this has proved quite
into believing that certain experts are more
continued on back
1.800. 973. 1177
LEGAL CAREER INFORMATION YOU CAN USE
knowledgeable than they really are.
concrete was installed properly and the framing was correct and could detect if the wood
First, look to see if they are an EnCase
was properly treated before used. The expert
Certified Examiner (EnCE). This is the most
should be able to pinpoint why the damage
credible certification currently available. In
occurred and at what point the construction
addition to the EnCE certification, be sure to
entity failed in creating a safe habitation, as
verify that the expert has plenty of additional
well as where and when the entity deviated
certifications. These certifications could in-
from industry standards.
clude those from Microsoft, as well as various network-administration credentials.
Forensic Evidence in Court Evidence must be relevant and reliable, and
Even when experts do have enough certifica-
there is no exception for forensic evidence.
tions to meet your needs, which indicates they
In many jurisdictions, a judge in a pretrial
have the proper experience and knowledge,
Daubert hearing determines the admissibility
you should still always ask to see their client
of forensic and scientific evidence. The judge
list. Talk to previous customers. Interview the
will determine if the evidence is reliable and
expert. Let them tell you how they can help
thus admissible by determining if the collec-
you recover the wanted digital evidence.
tion procedure was proper.
You should also ask about budgeting con-
Experts with legal experience will make the
cerns. Digital expert services may prove
evidentiary process easier for you and the
invaluable, but they are also quite expensive.
court. An expert should understand how
As with anything, if you don’t carefully monitor
evidence should be collected and safeguarded
this service, you may find your bill larger than
and documented from a legal standpoint.
you ever imagined. Set a budget and tell the service what you expect. This forethought may
We hope you’ve gained a little insight into the
save you unneeded future financial frustra-
value of forensic evidence. At the very least,
tion. Follow your Contracts 101 basics and get
we hope you will no longer think of forensic
this all in writing.
evidence as merely a human corpse on a coroner’s table. Just remember the basic
Finally, go with the company that puts you at
definition of the word forensic itself: the use
ease--after all, you really don’t need any addi-
of science to solve legal problems. Science
tional worries or frustrations. A digital expert
embodies so much nowadays, and you’re
should make your life easier, not create more
doing your profession a disservice by not con-
sidering the entire scope of forensics.
Other Areas of Forensics In addition to digital forensic analysts, there is also a wide variety of forensic experts in every field. Are you working on a design-defect case? A construction case? A slip-and fallcase? No matter the field, there are experts waiting for your business. For example, say you have a case involving poor construction of a home, which caused property damage or injury during an earthquake. A forensics construction expert could analyze the home, making sure that the