Every trial lawyer knows that trials are won or lost based upon admissible evidence. Listing hundreds or even thousands of documents on a pre-trial exhibit list becomes meaningless during the actual course of the trial. What matters ultimately is whether Exhibit 309 is admissible in evidence.
In pre-trial proceedings, massive amounts of information can be recovered from Internet and social media searches. Most of us start with Google searches and then proceed to social media searches. Sometimes what we find isn’t guaranteed to last.
Let’s look at the URL: http://www.fisherbroyles.com/rmarkhalligan
This is an active website with a unique URL. The web page may change tomorrow, or next week, adding other links to new articles or speeches or presentations.
How do you preserve it just as it exists today? Most of us will use some type of screen capture software on our local computer to save a copy of the web page. The capture will often crop just the screen and it will often look distorted. A PDF print option may not be accessible.
However, a screen shot does not qualify as admissible evidence. If we attempt to use this screen shot later to prove some critical fact, your opponent will object to the saved screen shot on the litigator’s local computer because it has not been properly “authenticated”—that the screen shot is “not what it purports to be”—requiring a foundation witness, such as the web site creator, to support the authentication. However, usually, such a witness is not available. The result: the screenshot is not admissible in evidence.
Page Vault is a new software solution that resolves the authentication issue and provides a “vault” for the storage of critical documents derived from a URL site. Page Vault uses a remote browser architecture so there can be no allegation of tampering because the evidence never resides on a local machine where it can be tampered with using various morphing software tools. There is no human interaction. The captured web page moves directly from the URL source on the Internet to the remote Page Vault capture server.
Recently, I used Page Vault to capture active website evidence in a patent infringement pre-filing investigation. The web pages show the infringing products on sale and the distribution channels. Using the Page Vault software, I captured the entire URL site, exactly as the pages appear in the browser, in a matter of seconds, for preservation on the Page Vault server. The “capture” is identical and the key metadata is automatically stored with all the links, trademark logos and other visuals on the website. Now, or later, I can print this website capture as a PDF document for the trial exhibit list and for introduction as admissible evidence at trial.
There will be no authentication issue. The “capture” is identical to the URL site and the web page evidence cannot be altered. There is now a permanent, unalterable record of the webpage as it existed at the time and date of the Page Vault capture with no possibility of any tampering with the evidence. Page Vault will also provide a supporting affidavit to assist trial counsel with authentication issues if any. Once the Court understands how Page Vault works, an authentication objection will be summarily overruled.
Apart from resolving authentication challenges to website evidence, the Page Vault software provides a more effective way of conducting research on the Internet. Unlike traditional screen capture tools, everything is captured with identical formatting and with a PDF format that is very impressive. You have the evidence safely preserved in the Page Vault. If your local computer crashes, or, if the Internet goes down, you will have the critical website evidence preserved forever in Page Vault.
This software is a must-have tool for trial lawyers and anyone else that needs an archiving tool that protects chain of custody and eliminates any possibility of tampering with the evidence.
Page Vault offers 3 monthly pricing plans: a solo plan ($95) for the individual practitioner, a “team” plan ($195) for 3 concurrent users and an enterprise plan ($495) for 10 concurrent users.