Paper vs. electronic: when “best evidence” isn't good enough

By Steve Weissman posted 07-23-2013 11:05


Remember when paper-based evidence was deemed irrefutable? There it was, in the prosecutor's hands, often being waved about for effect in front of the jury. Well, those days apparently are gone.

As reported by eDiscovery Daily, “the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York … upheld a spoliation sanction against a plaintiff that failed to preserve electronic files and discarded his computer containing those files.” Even though the plaintiff’s bookkeeper had printed the files in question, the Court noted that “converting the files from their native format to hard-copy form would have resulted in the loss of discoverable metadata.” And therein lies the rub.

What this means is that hard-copy documents no longer stand as worthy substitutes for the electronically-stored information they embody. Because they lack the attendant time/date stamps and other forensic data that can reveal so much about where those documents went and what happened they got there, they really only tell part of the story, and, often, the least important part.

1 comment


08-07-2013 16:01

Steve, this is interesting and shows the value and weight placed on the metadata of an electronic document. The printed version may have been doctored or the metadata may have shown differences in the creation time stamp, last changes date, etc.