Magazine article Information Management

Does E-Mail Belong in the Courtroom?

Magazine article Information Management

Does E-Mail Belong in the Courtroom?

Article excerpt

Prosecutors involved in the recent Microsoft antitrust case thought so. While the case was settled by the software company and the federal government a few months ago, it helped set a precedent that corporate e-mail can be used in litigation, and it used electronic messages by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates as an example. This creates new opportunities for lawyers and challenges for organizations in handling e-mail and other electronic messages.

The challenging part for organizations is to determine when to retain these various electronic messages and when to simply hit the "delete" button. Even then, organizations need to be aware of the common misconception that information is completely gone once it is deleted. Many companies have sophisticated computer back-up systems that store e-mail and other computer files on servers or back them up on tapes, and the legal profession is now using computers and software to sift through these - and even "deleted" electronic documents - to identify them by date, authors, recipients, topics, or keywords. With consulting firms often guiding attorneys in the process, these computerized services allow litigators to spend more of their time planning their cases and meeting with their clients, as opposed to sorting through e-mail files. …

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