The Growing Use of Internet Discovery

Internet discovery is becoming more prevalent in current litigation. It appears that average people post all kinds of personal and often incriminating information on the web. From MySpace to FaceBook you can often discover information useful in litigation. I have heard from a number of colleagues that internet discovery has come into play in their cases ranging from divorce, to personal injury and business litigation.

We have used these sites to find evidence and locate witnesses. In a recent case, we found photographs of the incident at issue as well as links to the pages of those who were present. In addition to learning of additional defendants, we have used myspace page information to located individuals for service of process, as people tend to detail all of the aspects of their daily life on the internet. These sites can also serve as a background check on witnesses providing information helpful in deposition.

I am told that MySpace and FaceBook pages come into play all too often in divorce court. Not so much as evidence of a cheating spouse, but more so in terms of custody. I can imagine that a Judge deciding custody would not look kindly on photos of children posted publicly on such sites. In the area of business litigation, there is often a wealth of information on the web pertaining to corporations and corporate structure. Further, a colleague of mine provided a very helpful tip to Google key words that juries will hear during trial. As he suggested, the lawyer should know what the jury is expecting to hear about a particular party or topic.

The web provides a method for people to connect and come together despite geographic barriers. However, an invitation extended so globally may invite unwanted visitors and make private matters public.