When Discovery Goes Wrong: Alex Jones’ Trial Perjury
Attorneys have a professional duty to help represent their client and protect their best interests through their legal engagement. The discovery phase is an integral part of the legal process. The duty of the legal professionals to protect their client’s sensitive data as well as effectively responding to the requests imposed on them.
In the case of Alex Jones’ defamation trial, it has been noted the entire contents of his cell phone was turned over to Plaintiff’s counsel. When Mr. Jones’ legal team was notified of this potentially inadvertent disclosure, no claw back or “snapback” demand was issued to Plaintiff’s counsel to help protect the Defendant. So, what went wrong? What steps could have been taken to help prevent such an erroneous handling of this discovery phase?
There are multiple options available when collecting and producing mobile device data. Regardless of the methods used, some of the following considerations should be taken when handling your own discovery requests.
● Mobile devices are very intricate pieces of technology that many of us use, but few adequately understand the scope of their capabilities. When handling mobile device data, retaining a forensic expert is key when preserving, reviewing, and producing that data, especially in the discovery phase.
● Very few discovery requests will result in the production of an entire device. There are a plethora of options available to respondents of discovery requests to cull down and review their data set for responsive data. Unless the request is all-inclusive, and a privilege review has been performed to identify items to be withheld, there is little if any reason why a full device’s data set should ever be produced.
● Keyword searching and date filtering are methods forensic experts and legal professionals alike can use to narrow their clients’ data productions. Whether that data is in a review platform, or is being reviewed in a forensic program, these robust features area available to professionals to assist their review.
● When an initial review has been completed, a quality check of the production is an absolute must. You want to ensure the processes and procedures are correct and lead to a final production that meets the discovery burden and abides by all legal standards. Even with the use of technology to execute these processes, some measure of attorney-guided review of the final production should be performed.
This begs the question, with a variety of options available to legal and technical professionals alike, what went wrong in Mr. Jones’ case? How could such an egregious oversight of professional responsibility take place? While the jury may be out on that, always ensure you’re working with the appropriate technical professionals to help ensure your electronic discovery is handled with the utmost care.
The Frontline Difference
When collecting and producing mobile device data, we work in concert with outside counsel to minimize interruptions and ensure fiduciary responsibility at every point. Our approach to eDiscovery unites the key stakeholders around a common vision and strategy for resolving legal matters quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively to allow lawyers to focus on the business of law while we take care of the technical details. Learn more about our eDiscovery services here.
Donnie Tennant is an expert on Frontline Managed Services’ Digital Forensics Team. Donnie has been practicing digital forensics since 2016, with an emphasis on mobile devices and cloud forensics through specialized training from industry leaders in the mobile forensics community.