Prosecutions Using Digital Evidence: A Starting Point
Digital evidence is essential to criminal investigations and prosecutions, but its use is fraught with challenges: rapid changes in technology, the need to communicate those changes to stakeholders, and a sociopolitical landscape that leaves little room for error, particularly regarding electronic data privacy. In the criminal justice system, these challenges can affect the admissibility of evidence and its proper introduction at trial, as well as how cases are charged and resolved. A survey of 50 United States (U.S.)-based prosecutors, contextualized by data from a second survey of 51 U.S.-based investigators, explores these issues for the present and future,
A Survey of Official and Unofficial Law Enforcement Twitter Accounts in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States (coauthor)
To use Twitter to its fullest potential for public communications, emergency management, and other functions, law enforcement agencies must first understand the medium — not only how citizens use it, but also how their peers use it both officially and unofficially. This study, a survey of 1,089 police and police-related Twitter accounts, used 25 different criteria to show how agencies and officers are using Twitter, where they can improve, and implications for their future use.
I contracted with the nonprofit Zero Abuse Project to coauthor a series of practical publications for use by prosecutors of child abuse-related crimes:
March 2023. This publication is a practical companion to our treatise on Child Statement and Forensic Interview Admissibility. The publication synthesizes case law, state statutes, and hearsay exceptions, into 11 basic strategies for prosecutors to admit forensic interviews and child statements into evidence.
March 2023. This publication explores the nuanced techniques necessary for cross-examination in child abuse cases. The guide provides 22 techniques split into four categories ranging from fundamental to advanced tactics. Each technique includes sample lines of questioning for easy adaptation by frontline prosecutors.
December 2022. As court cases increasingly involve the use of digital evidence, the demand for experts who can evaluate how that evidence was collected and analyzed—and then explain that process to the court— has also grown. This article provides attorneys with a baseline understanding to help them better assess potential digital forensic experts.
June 2022. Part 1 provides 8 introductory considerations for prosecutors, and addresses the complexity and challenges faced when working cases involving remotely stored and encrypted data. It also explores investigative procedures and legal process best practices when obtaining electronic evidence.
Part 2 provides 7 advanced strategies for prosecutors, as well as guidance for dealing with cloud providers and other stakeholders. Zero Abuse Project developed this article to serve as a reference for prosecutors and investigators facing challenges when working cases involving remotely stored data.
March 2022. Even though signed search warrants are legally binding court orders, Big Tech still may not comply. This guide acknowledges common privacy concerns that make data more difficult for the government to obtain, and lays out six strategies for prosecutors confronting objections from electronic service providers.
February 2022. Seeking to introduce a forensic interview is not an ancillary matter in child abuse prosecution. In many cases, it is the most critical, persuasive piece of evidence for the jury’s consideration. This guide will equip entry level prosecutors with an understanding of relevant admissibility law in their jurisdiction, and encourage seasoned prosecutors to take a fresh look at the several viable options for forensic interview admissibility.