Cell phones can be a treasure trove of information for trial lawyers, but you must take an aggressive and rapid-response approach to preserving and obtaining their data. At Yarborough Applegate, our team has proven experience using cell phone data as evidence in cases. We’ve learned that successfully doing so requires swift action, a sound strategy, and a bit of creative thinking.
Attorney Douglas Jennings shared a few of our best practices for preserving, obtaining, and presenting cell phone data while presenting a virtual CLE on the critical role it can play in trucking, auto, and catastrophic injury litigation for the Kentucky Justice Association last week.
CELL PHONE EVIDENCE 101
First things first, you need to gain access to the cell phone in question. Keep in mind that the old data on a cell phone is constantly being erased and replaced with new data. That means time is of the essence if you want to get your hands on the raw data of someone’s cell phone. The best, most efficient way to win the race against the clock? You need to go ahead and file a lawsuit and invoke the judicial process, Jennings says. “Because no one is going to hand over their phone for a forensic inspection without a court’s order.”
Once you’ve got a cell phone in-hand, it’s time to interpret the data. Jennings shared a few practical tips and tools that attorneys can use themselves, and elaborated on examples when our firm has thought outside the box, scrutinizing social media activity, audio files, and more.
Of course, all of this hard work only makes a difference if you can translate the often highly technical information into simple, demonstrative evidence for powerful presentations at trial. But the payoff can be enormous. When gathered, analyzed, and articulated successfully, cell phone data can have a powerful, precedent-setting impact.