Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Grimm Provides Detailed Analysis of Evidentiary Issues Associated with Electronic Evidence

Lorraine v. Markel Am. Ins. Co., 241 F.R.D. 534 (D. Md. 2007)

In this case, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment but failed to comply with the requirement of Rule 56 that they support their motions with admissible evidence.  Chief United States Magistrate Judge Paul W. Grimm denied both motions without prejudice to allow resubmission with proper evidentiary support.  In this lengthy memorandum opinion, Magistrate Judge Grimm remarks that, although cases abound regarding the discoverability of electronic records, research failed to locate a comprehensive analysis of the many interrelated evidentiary issues associated with electronic evidence.  “Given the pervasiveness today of electronically prepared and stored records, as opposed to the manually prepared records of the past, counsel must be prepared to recognize and appropriately deal with the evidentiary issues associated with the admissibility of electronically generated and stored evidence.”  Magistrate Judge Grimm describes five distinct but interrelated evidentiary issues that govern whether electronic evidence will be admitted into evidence at trial or accepted as an exhibit in summary judgment practice, and counsels:

Although each of these rules may not apply to every exhibit offered, as was the case here, each still must be considered in evaluating how to secure the admissibility of electronic evidence to support claims and defenses.  Because it can be expected that electronic evidence will constitute much, if not most, of the evidence used in future motions practice or at trial, counsel should know how to get it right on the first try.  The Court hopes that the explanation provided in this memorandum order will assist in that endeavor.

View the full opinion on the court’s website, here.

One Comment

  • Judge Grimm seems to be saying that if it is critical to the success of your case to admit into evidence computer stored records, it would be prudent to authenticate the records by the most rigorous standard that may be applied.

    Digital Signatures and/or Trusted Time Stamps are the most logical technologies to adhere to such rigorous standards. Otherwise, one cannot adequately demonstrate that records have integrity and that they are what they purport to be.

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