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In the Duke University lacrosse team drama, lawyers began trying the evidence in the media the moment it surfaced. The allegation that players had raped a local woman at a party was quickly followed by headlines about incriminating e-mail, digital photos and a DNA test. The chattering class revved up to hash out all the angles — on TV, talk radio and blogs — but much of the debate, especially among attorneys, betrayed startling ignorance about the nature of digital information and its vulnerabilities as evidence.

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