Digital forensics and other eDiscovery components have been the focal points of a variety of high-profile, national legal proceedings in recent months, including the Casey Anthony trial and the investigation of Michael Jackson’s untimely death. For example, when a Google search for ways to suffocate a child was released months after the conclusion of the Casey Anthony trial, a variety of questions were raised regarding the accuracy of the investigation.
In electronic litigation proceedings, timeliness and accuracy are equally as important, as evidence that appears too late will often be useless, and ill-advised searches will yield headaches.
Evidence viewed as a game-changer
CNN recently reported that an e-mail was uncovered that many are viewing as a smoking gun in the wrongful death lawsuit that Michael Jackson’s mother and several of the performer’s children filed. According to the news provider, the trial is set to begin in April, and Dr. Conrad Murray and Prince Jackson, the musician’s oldest son, are already on the witness list.
Murray, who was the defendant in a trial that included allegations of involuntary manslaughter following Jackson’s death at the age of 50, did not testify, but is expected to do so in April. The source explained that the family is now alleging that AEG Live, the organization behind Jackson’s “This Is It” comeback concerts, pressured Dr. Murray into getting the performer ready for action. In the end, Jackson died from cardiac arrest two weeks prior to the concert series beginning.
“Now that the court has ruled that there is evidence that it was foreseeable that AEG’s actions resulted in Michael Jackson’s death, the Jackson family feels vindicated from the public smear campaign that AEG has waged against them,” said Jackson attorney Kevin Boyle, according to CNN. “The truth about what happened to Michael, which AEG has tried to keep hidden from the public since the day Michael died, is finally emerging. We look forward to the trial where the rest of the story will come to light.”
This illustrates how the smallest piece of evidence can make such a large impact on a trial.
How eDiscovery changes trials
The email in question was one of what is believed to be millions of communications that needed to be culled and reviewed to find evidence that AEG or Dr. Murray had a hand in Jackson’s death. Whereas the traditional methods of sifting through millions of communications would take unprecedented amounts of time and extremely difficult review processes, eDiscovery tools such as technology assisted review also known as predictive coding, when used properly, shorten the turnaround and increase accuracy.