Plaintiff sues your client, claiming that his injuries have significantly affected his lifestyle. He is unable to work, travel or bowl. Not surprisingly, his spouse alleges loss of consortium. On the eve of trial, you discover pictures and other details on a social networking website about plaintiff’s recent trip to the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame, including a picture of plaintiff proudly holding a fluorescent orange bowling ball and a four-foot tall gilded trophy dated four days earlier. As you approach the witness with printouts of the web pages, you are stopped in your tracks: “Objection, lack of foundation.”
It is now routine for litigators to conduct internet research to work up a case. Indeed, for many litigators, one of the first things they do is see what is available about the opposing party, searching Google, social networking sites like Twitter, MySpace and Facebook, and the party’s personal websites. During the life of any case, there will likely be valuable information obtained from the internet that will be used at deposition or trial. Commonly, the proponent of online evidence will present a screen shot of the web page, which was either downloaded as a .pdf or printed directly from the website. The process is like taking a photograph of the image as it appears on the monitor. In general, this captures not only the look, but also the download date and the URL. If proper steps are not taken to admit the evidence, the value of this information may be lost.
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