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Archive for the ‘Exclusion of Evidence’ Category

Case Blurb: Asher Assocs LLC; Role of Intent in Assessing Sanctions

Posted by rjbiii on July 12, 2009

Common sense suggests that a failure to produce or preserve relevant evidence may involve conduct that falls “along a continuum of fault — ranging from innocence through the degrees of negligence to intentionality.”

In Aramburu v. Boeing Co., 112 F.3d 1398, 1407 (10th Cir. 1997), the Tenth Circuit held that “the bad faith destruction of a document relevant to proof of an issue at trial gives rise to an inference that production of the document would have been unfavorable to the party responsible for its destruction.” In the same decision, the Tenth Circuit further reasoned that no adverse inference should arise where the destruction of a document resulted from mere negligence, because only bad faith would support an “inference of consciousness of a weak case.” FN11.

FN11: “‘Bad faith’ is the antithesis of good faith and has been defined in the cases to be when a thing is done dishonestly and not merely negligently. It is also defined as that which imports a dishonest purpose and implies wrongdoing or some motive of self-interest.” Of course, in cases where an adverse inference instruction is neither requested nor appropriate, the Tenth Circuit has held that a finding of bad faith is not required to impose non-dispositive sanctions, such as excluding evidence.

Asher Assocs., LLC v. Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations, Inc., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40136 at *27-28 (D. Colo. May 12, 2009)(internal citations removed).

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Posted in 10th Circuit, Adverse Inference, Bad Faith, Case Blurbs, D. Colo., Data Retention Practices, Duty to Preserve, Exclusion of Evidence, Good Faith, Magistrate Judge Craig B. Schafer, Sanctions, Spoliation | Leave a Comment »

Imwinkelried 11 Step method to authenticating computer records to the court

Posted by rjbiii on September 13, 2007

11 Steps to Authenticating Computer Records

Professor Imwinkelried perceives electronic records as a form of scientific evidence and discerns an eleven-step foundation for computer records:

“1. The business uses a computer.

2. The computer is reliable.

3. The business has developed a procedure for inserting data into the computer.

4. The procedure has built-in safeguards to ensure accuracy and identify errors.

5. The business keeps the computer in a good state of repair.

6. The witness had the computer readout certain data.

7. The witness used the proper procedures to obtain the readout.

8. The computer was in working order at the time the witness obtained the readout.

9. The witness recognizes the exhibit as the readout.

10. The witness explains how he or she recognizes the readout.

11. If the readout contains strange symbols or terms, the witness explains the meaning of the symbols or terms for the trier of fact.”

As the foregoing cases illustrate, there is a wide disparity between the most lenient positions courts have taken in accepting electronic records as authentic and the most demanding requirements that have been imposed. Further, it would not be surprising to find that, to date, more courts have tended towards the lenient rather than the demanding approach. However, it also is plain that commentators and courts increasingly recognize the special characteristics of electronically stored records, and there appears to be a growing awareness, as expressed in the Manual for Complex Litigation, that courts “should … consider the accuracy and reliability of computerized evidence” in ruling on its admissibility. Lawyers can expect to encounter judges in both camps, and in the absence of controlling precedent in the court where an action is pending setting forth the foundational requirements for computer records, there is uncertainty about which approach will be required. Further, although “it may be better to be lucky than good,” as the saying goes, counsel would be wise not to test their luck unnecessarily. If it is critical to the success of your case to admit into evidence computer stored records, it would be prudent to plan to authenticate the record by the most rigorous standard that may be applied. If less is required, then luck was with you.

Lorraine v. Markel Am. Ins. Co., 241 F.R.D. 534, 558-59 (D. Md. 2007) (citing In re Vee Vinhee, 336 B.R. 437 (Bkrptcy, 9th Cir. 2005); Edward Imwinkelried, EVIDENTIARY FOUNDATIONS, § 4.03[2]).

Posted in 3d Circuit, Authentication, D. Md., Exclusion of Evidence | Leave a Comment »

Case Blurb: Alcoa; Adverse Inference, exclusion are drastic measures

Posted by rjbiii on August 29, 2007

In exercising its discretion, a court may exclude the spoiled evidence or allow the jury to infer that the party spoiled the evidence b/c the evidence was unfavorable to the party’s case. However, these sanctions are considered drastic, and courts generally try to avoid imposing them when lesser sanctions are available. Consolidated Aluminum Corp. v. Alcoa, Inc., 2006 WL 2583308 (M.D.La) (citing Morris v. Union Pacific R. R., 373 F.3d 896, 900 (8th Cir.2004)).

Posted in 5th Circuit, Case Blurbs, Exclusion of Evidence, M.D. La., Magistrate Judge Christine Noland, Sanctions, Spoliation | Leave a Comment »