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Hartford, Conn.�Jeffrey Ranta is convinced there’s something somewhere in his wife’s laptop that would help his divorce case. And now the Greenwich, Conn., urologist may have the chance to prove it. Judge Kevin Tierney of Stamford, Conn., Superior Court recently took the highly unusual step in Ranta v. Ranta of ordering Mary Ranta to stop using her laptop altogether and immediately turn it over to the court clerk’s office. It’s the first computer seizure he’s ever ordered, the judge confirmed in a recent interview with The Connecticut Law Tribune, a sister publication of The National Law Journal. Tierney said his goal was to preserve electronic data for discovery. But Mary Ranta and her lawyer, Westport, Conn.’s Nancy Segore-Freshman, contend that the order is overbroad and burdensome. To appease the wife, Tierney directed Jeffrey Ranta to purchase a duplicate computer for her, along with copies of all the software programs currently on the laptop. Mary Ranta, in turn, must make a list of all the applications she has on the computer. Under the recent order, her receipt of the replacement laptop “will occur simultaneously with the placement of the [original] laptop computer and computer storage devices into evidence” with the court clerk. The focus of inquiry appears to be on Mary Ranta’s e-mail records, and not financial records or other materials. The order instructs the parties to choose a mutually agreeable computer expert. If they can’t, each side is to suggest two candidates, and the judge will select the finalist. In open court, the computer expert to be selected is expected to start the computer and locate the files needed for discovery. The husband’s lawyer, Thomas D. Colin of Greenwich’s Schoonmaker, George & Colin, declined to comment on the case.

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