Friday, September 30, 2011

A look inside the special forensics lab designed to bring Stanley Cup rioters to justice.

News Hour - Special forensics, part two. John Daly continues an exclusive look inside the special forensics lab designed to bring Stanley Cup rioters to justice.

Read it on Global News: Special forensics, part two - News Hour - Videos | Global BC

Enjoy.

What's at stake in surveillance-law wrangle

From the NZHerald: "The Government's bill to legalise covert state video surveillance is more than just the balancing act between civil liberties and police powers to investigate crime.

It is also about police reputation, good constitutional practice and the law-making powers of Parliament and the Supreme Court.

In a decision known as Hamed, the Supreme Court on September 2 found that covert video surveillance on private property was illegal, even under a search warrant.

Crown Law advice is that all trespassory video surveillance is illegal, and "over the fence" surveillance (filming from a public place, or from private land with the owner's consent) is likely to be illegal too.

Police immediately turned off the video cameras in 13 current operations, and have held off starting 15 operations.

Forty-seven pending trials involving 229 suspects involve evidence gathered by hidden cameras, and these have all been put on hold.

The Security Intelligence Service, Customs and Fisheries are also affected ..."

To continue reading the story, click here.

Enjoy.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

An exclusive look at forensics lab tasked with bringing Vancouver rioters to justice

From Global TV BC: "Most of the students at the University of Indianapolis have no idea that investigators from across world have gathered in the basement of the University library to eventually bring Vancouver’s rioting hooligans to justice.

The 1600 hours of riot footage is divided amongst teams of trained forensic analysts who identify suspects and tag their identifying features, so the computer can track them from one crime scene to another.

It is a vast amount of data gathered during the Game 7 riot, and there is only one place in the world that can handle it all.

Global got an exclusive look inside the unique lab, where they say the magnitude of the VPD investigation is unparalleled.

The lab consists of forty of the best analysts from Great Britain, Florida, Chicago, and L.A. [ed. note, I can't confirm/deny that the analyst from Los Angeles was me.] as well as Vancouver, trying to identify rioters so they can be charged and convicted.

“It is a challenge. It is also an incredible learning experience for us,” says Michael Plaxton with Durham Ontario Regional Police who is working on the project. “There is a lot of information that we can take back with us to our own departments, so if we have to do the same thing that Vancouver has to deal with, we’d be prepared.”

The LEVA, or law enforcement video analysis lab, is a prized asset for the university.

“We donated the space, and of course they have all of this high tech, incredible equipment and I understand that this is the only place like it in the world, which is wonderful for us,” says Patricia A. Jefferson, Associate Provost at the University of Indianapolis.

The lab was set up a few years ago to deal with big events like terrorist bombings that typically generate large amounts of video ..."

Read it on Global News: An exclusive look at forensics lab tasked with bringing Vancouver rioters to justice.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Warrants being issued to get more riot evidence from media

From News1130.com: "Think you got away with some the damage and destruction caused during the riot in June? Think again!

That's the message from Vancouver Police, who say forensic analysts are in Indianapolis right now processing over 1,600 hours worth of video evidence with a ton of images of rioters that have yet to be identified.

The VPD are just now getting court orders for raw media footage of the riot. Inspector Les Yeo says it's important to get the raw, unedited accounts.

As for why this wasn't done in the first week or two after the riot he says, "Any kind of a judicial process is extremely complicated. This warrant is over 100 pages long. It's very complicated to write. We must ensure it withstands any kind of scrutiny from the courts."

Yeo says police are still on track to recommend 40 charges by the end of next month. They eventually hope to see hundreds of participants charged ...

Click here to read the story.

Enjoy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

VIDEO: NHL riot footage examined in U.S.

More than 1,500 hours of video from the June Vancouver riot are being analyzed in the U.S. to link faces to crimes, the CBC's Kirk Williams reports.

Now I can't confirm or deny any involvement, but someone who fits my description can be seen at 1:11 of the video ...

Enjoy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

California bill would ban warrantless cell phone searches

This just in from CNN: "If you get arrested in California, the photos, e-mails and other personal data on your cell phone soon could be a bit safer from prying police eyes soon. A bill passed by the state legislature would require law-enforcement officers to obtain a warrant before searching the cell phone of a person placed under arrest.

If signed by the governor, the bill would override a January ruling by the California Supreme Court. According to California Sen. Mark Leno, who sponsored the legislation, this ruling had "legalized the warrantless search of cell phones during an arrest, regardless of whether the information on the phone is relevant to the arrest or if criminal charges are ever filed."

The new California law unanimously passed in the state Assembly. Gov. Jerry Brown has until October 9 to sign it into law, according to a spokesman from the governor's office.

Under this legislation, California law enforcement officers would have to first obtain a search warrant when there is probable cause to believe a suspect's portable electronic device contains evidence of a crime.

The Peace Officers Research Association of California, which opposed the bill, argued: "Restricting the authority of a peace officer to search an arrestee unduly restricts their ability to apply the law, fight crime, discover evidence valuable to an investigation and protect the citizens of California."

The California legislature disagreed, finding that "once in the exclusive control of the police, cellular telephones do not ordinarily pose a threat to officer safety." Furthermore, lawmakers found that existing practices -- including confiscating the phone (without searching it) or promptly applying to a judge for a search warrant -- alleviate concerns about destruction of evidence ..."

Click here to read the whole article.

Enjoy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Adobe Elements family

A few days ago, Adobe announced an update to their Elements family of products. They're at version 10 with Elements (Premiere and Photoshop).

During these trying economic times, I'm sure that agencies will be tempted to short-change themselves and buy the Elements versions over their more expensive cousins. I'd hope that cooler heads will prevail and folks will look long term.

Part of validating a tool is to see what others in the industry are doing. Is the tool generally accepted in the field? Do a good amount of your peers use the product? Unfortunately for the Elements family, the answers are no and no. Do you really want to risk your case by using something that wasn't meant for our industry?

Elements is good for folks new to photo and video editing. It's handy links to social networking sites are perfect for your family photos and the kids' softball games. Unfortunately for our budgets, it's not a law enforcement product.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Webinar: Decoding Digital Evidence: What Every Law Enforcement Officer Must Know

Information relayed on behalf of LEVA which supports this FBI RCFL training opportunity:

As part of its Continuing Education Series, the FBI's Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (RCFL) Program is offering a free Webinar to members of law enforcement and government agencies. During this two-hour live event, participants will hear from the FBI's top experts about-

  • Current trends in digital forensics including the types of investigations RCFL personnel most frequently support, including crimes against children. 
  • Utilizing the power of social media during criminal investigations to generate leads, with a special focus on crimes against children. 
  • Best practices for handling smartphones, tablets, e.g. iPads, audio/video surveillance, and more.
  • Major legal considerations surrounding digital evidence 
Participants may request certificates of completion after the event. This free webinar is for Law Enforcement, Government Personnel and Infragard Members ONLY. Register for the event by clicking here.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ToughTech Duo review

At DSI-Vegas, I introduced a new piece of gear to the folks in my Premiere Pro class, the ToughTech Duo. Many were curious as to how I was processing a live camera feed into OnLocation, as well as processing video in Premiere Pro CS5.5 for the class (on a laptop) ... all without missing a beat (or dropping a frame).

Sitting next to my MacBook Pro was small silver box, the ToughTech Duo from CRU-DataPort. This small RAID box was connected to my MacBook Pro via the Firewire 800 port.

CRU-DataPort sent the unit out for me to look at. I was impressed with the design; compact, clean, with an easy to understand LCD menu screen. Add to this the quad connectivity options of FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2.0, and eSATA. It will do RAID 0 or 1. For the class, I wanted performance. I chose to set it up for RAID 0.

Powering the drives is easy. Most FireWire ports have adequate power to operate ToughTech Duo, maximizing portability. The ToughTech Duo can also supply power over a FireWire cable whilst allowing a data connection over the faster eSATA port. An AC power supply is also included, along with plugs for US, European, UK, and Australian wall connections.

As much time as I spend in the field, it's nice to know that there's a product out there that can meet my demanding expectations. Now, I can bring along the ToughTech Duo. At only 4lbs, I hardly notice that it's in my kit. OnLocation records at about 13GB/hour. With the 1.5TB model, I can record for days on end - which is great for both forensic video applications as well as surveillance operations.

I like the ToughTech Duo a lot. I can't recommend it highly enough. I think that you will like it too. At around $750 for the 1.5TB model, you really can't go wrong.

Enjoy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What happened to Clip Notes?

I received a note the other day asking about what happened to the Clip Notes feature in Premiere Pro CS5.

The Clip Notes feature is not included in After Effects CS5 or Adobe Premiere Pro CS5. However, you can use CS Review in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 to create reviews of movies made in After Effects or Adobe Premiere Pro.

What's CS Review? According to Adobe, CS Review is an online service in that lets you share your design content on the web so that others can provide feedback. The CS Review panel lets you create reviews and upload content to the Acrobat.com server. The CS Review panel is available in the CS5 and CS5.5 versions of Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Adobe Premiere Pro.

When you upload content, a snapshot image of your content is uploaded to a personal or shared workspace on the Acrobat.com server, where participants can add comments. (If you are working from Adobe Premiere Pro, you actually upload the entire video sequence for commenting.) You and others can view the comments in the web browser and in the CS Review panel of the Creative Suite application. You can continue to add and remove snapshots of your design content, making the review dynamic.

CS Review is part of the CS Live subscription service. A CS Live subscription is required for creating and managing reviews from Creative Suite applications. However, review participants are not required to have a CS Live subscription to view and comment on reviews. Reviewers need only a free Acrobat.com account. For more information on CS Live subscriptions, see www.adobe.com/go/cslive. As always, make sure that your agency or institution supports your use of these services. Not all agencies approve of "cloud based" services. Also, make sure that you understand how this service works with your discovery process.

Enjoy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Validation?

We were having a discussion on the show floor at HTCIA recently. HTCIA is all about computer forensics and the things that are on the periphery of that discipline ... like cell phone forensics.

The topic of validation came up in relation to the various cell phone forensic tools that were being sold that week. How does one validate the cell phone forensic tools? How does one even choose which tools to buy? Can you believe the marketing hype from the vendors? The answer, as always ... it depends.

One of the people present gave the following example. They received a particular handset for examination in a criminal case. The court requested all text/sms messages be retrieved and made available for the court. The examiner took the phone off the network and browsed to the messages. The phone's display noted that there were 270 messages in the phone. The examiner had Secure View from DataPilot. Secure View is relatively inexpensive. It was the only tool that this examiner had as he was new to forensics and his small agency didn't have a lot of money. Problem? The handset wasn't supported by Secure View. Take a look at their site. More often than not, they don't support the retrieval of sms messages.

The problem is compounded by the fact that there isn't a single vendor that gets all phones. Most products are expensive in terms of buying the hardware and getting training on how to use it correctly. Cellebrite's UFED Physical Pro can run almost $10k. The Standard version is cheaper, and many people opt for it out of budgetary concerns. Cellebrite says that it gets so many thousand handsets, but do they really? They count in their list of supported handsets ones in which they only retrieve the phone book and call history.

If you are ordered by the court to retrieve all sms messages, what do you return? Just those visible? Visible and deleted? How do you interpret all sms messages? What if your tool doesn't support the handset? What if your tool doesn't support the retrieval of deleted files from that handset? What do you do? Are you ethically bound to recuse yourself do to the lack of appropriate tools?

Can you consider your tool valid if it only retrieves data from certain handsets? Is it therefore valid if it retrieves some things, but not everything? As an example, Secure View does not support the retrieval of sms messages from any HTC phone. It'll get other things from HTC phones, but not sms messages. Is it a valid tool for use with HTC phones?

Enter Crawford and Brady. You get an order to retrieve sms messages from a handset. Your tools don't support that particular handset. Does your attorney goes to trial not knowing what's in those messages? The other side employs an expert with tools that do support the retrieval of all sms messages from the handset. Are you and your attorney comfortable with this scenario? What about a scenario where your tool gets most, but not all messages. Your visual inspection shows 270 messages. Your tool retrieves 249 messages. Where'd the other messages go? Try as you might, you can't get to the other messages in your retrieval. What do you do? Is your process valid?

Crawford says that you get to be questioned. Brady says that the answers to those questions get to follow you around for the rest of your career. Given this, are you comfortable with your tools and your procedures? If you are not, do you have the institutional support to make necessary changes? What happens to you if you don't/can't? Will expediency rule, or will science win out? The answers from the HTCIA show floor might surprise you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Expediency?

--- Begin editorial ---

I was recently contacted by someone who needed me to work on a case involving video based evidence. I examined the evidence briefly and told them that it would take about a week to set up the experiments, test/validate the results, and return a report. His answer, "can it be done quicker? I don't care about the other stuff. I just need to get something that I can use and get it out to the media."

My answer was simple. I turned down the job. I tried to explain to the customer that I'd either do it the right way, or not at all - that justice demands the process be followed and that expediency has no place in science.

Expediency? Expediency is a regard for what is politic or advantageous rather than for what is right or just. "I'm just trying to get this done ..." "Quick and dirty." "It's not for court, it's for the media ..."

If the multimedia evidence will be used to help identify a suspect, either through a BOLO flyer, a media alert, or bill boards and bus benches ... is it really "not for court?"

What if "quick and dirty" gets it wrong? What if, in "just trying to get something done," your freeware tools or shoddy processes ignore aspect, colour and light, drop frames, etc. In the process, you get the shape of the face wrong, the skin or clothing colour wrong ... and someone identifies the wrong person. What if your "quick and dirty" wastes time and resources as investigators look in the wrong direction?

What's our responsibility to the Trier of Fact to get it right, from start to finish? Is it possible to be both fast and accurate? I would argue that it is ... provided that the technician has the appropriate training and equipment.

Is it ethical to base your workflow or business processes on expediency? I've received a number of e-mails asking about speeding up processes because of mandatory filing deadlines. Essentially what's being said is that the analyst isn't being given the proper amount of time because a suspect is in custody and the investigator needs to get the case filed. Ouch.

What about expediency in terms of assignment of personnel? Is it ethical to place an employee into a position for which he/she does not have appropriate training and experience? These are all questions facing supervisors as budgets shrink. What's the appropriate response? Is the NAS report right in that lab functions should be privatized, separated from governmental agencies?

With the Crawford doctrine taking hold and defendants exercising their right to question everyone, attorneys are digging into the training and expertise of technicians who are involved in the prosecution's case. Given Brady, would a technician necessarily want to harm his/her career by being on the losing end of a thorough cross examination - being found unqualified to provide testimony? What role do managers play in preventing this from happening? In other words, if you know that your people are not as qualified as they should be, and you know attorneys are using Crawford (6th Ammendment) to call everyone related to the case, why would you entertain expediency? In "just getting things done," you may be ending the careers of your people and ultimately harming your case.

This is just an editorial on my part. Now that budgets are shrinking, I've been getting so many e-mails on the subject of "getting things done" that I had to say something. I'm not speaking about any one agency or firm - just collectively about the practice of expediency. Expediency has no place in the justice system, in my humble opinion.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Premiere Pro Training Curriculum

For the first time, Adobe is offering Adobe Premiere Pro Official Training Curriculum. The Official Training Curriculum offers students entering the industry or seasoned professionals the necessary skillset to use Adobe Premiere Pro for their editing needs. The goal of the Adobe Premiere Pro Official Training Curriculum is to ensure quality, consistency and accessibility of Adobe Premiere Pro training worldwide.

There are two types of courses that Adobe makes available to you:

An Introduction to Adobe Premiere Pro (101)
This entry-level course teaches students to perform essential editing techniques while becoming familiar with the Adobe Premiere Pro user interface. This class is designed for anyone looking to edit professional-quality video with Adobe Premiere Pro and uses hands-on and interactive instruction to best explore its functionality. The course is designed for new users who have no substantial editing experience.

Adobe Premiere Pro for Experienced Editors (250)
This course teaches experienced editors how to navigate Adobe Premiere Pro and helps give them insights on how to use Adobe Premiere Pro within the Creative Suite Production Premium workflow. This class is designed for students who are making the transition to Adobe Premiere Pro from another nonlinear editing platform.

If you wish to order this bundle as well as classroom materials, visit the Peachpit Press website to order: http://www.peachpit.com/premieretraining

Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Working with Photoshop Layer Comps in Adobe Captivate

Captivate just keeps getting better. So much has changed with Adobe Captivate since I used it to create the videos for my book. Here's an exciting addition: "In Adobe Photoshop, you can work with different types of layers like adjustment layers, mask layers, and layer comps. Layer comps allow you to create, manage, and view multiple versions of a layout in a single Photoshop file. This feature comes in really handy when you are creating screen layouts for your eLearning courses. You can save all your course screens as different layer comps and then use it in your Adobe Captivate courses.

Let’s see in this demonstration how to create layer comps and import these layer comps in Adobe Captivate.

Click here to watch the video. Expert services for imaging, video, audio, and cell phone analysis can be found here.

Enjoy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Use one mouse/keyboard on multiple PCs

From ZDnet: "Do you work with multiple PC? Is your desktop cluttered with more than one keyboard and/or mouse? If this describes you then you need Mouse without Borders.

Mouse without Borders is a Microsoft Garage project that allows you to work with numerous PCs as though they were a single system.

Note: What is the Microsoft Garage? Here’s how Microsoft describes it:

“The Garage is both a physical space in Building 4 at our Redmond HQ, and a company wide program that encourages grass roots invention, tinkering, ideas and incubation of projects. In The Garage, employees get together after hours to build whatever they dream up and the results are often impressive. 99.9% of the Garage projects either ship as part of a Microsoft project or remain internal, but every once in a while there’s a project that doesn’t fit into any existing Microsoft product which will get a lot of request from employees who want to be able to share it with their friends and families. In exceptions like this, the Garage community will rally together to and publish it as a standalone public download.”

Using Mouse without Borders, you can control up to four PCs with a single keyboard and mouse with no extra hardware needed - it’s all done over the network. In addition to using the same keyboard and mouse on multiple PCs, you can also move files between PCs by dragging and dropping, copy and paste across systems, easily share screen captures and even log in or lock multiple PCs simultaneously.

Very neat.

Mouse without Borders has been developed by Truong Do who, by day, is a developer for Microsoft Dynamics.

Download here [1.1MB]."

Click here to read the whole article. Expert services for imaging, video, audio, and cell phone analysis can be found here.

Enjoy.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Adobe acquires IRIDAS

Adobe announced at the IBC 2011 Conference and Exhibition that it has acquired certain assets of privately held IRIDAS, a leader in high-performance tools for digital color grading and enhancement of professional film and video content, including stereoscopic technology. Color grading is an essential component of finalizing professional film and television content and is becoming an increasingly important part of modern content creation with the advent and rapid growth of High Dynamic Range (HDR) video.

The addition of IRIDAS technology includes SpeedGrade, an award-winning toolset for Stereo 3D, RAW processing, color grading and finishing of digital content. IRIDAS offers the only non-destructive tools for primary and secondary color correction that are optimized for multi-core CPU and GPU performance, paralleling the industry-leading speed and efficiency of the Adobe Premiere® Pro and Adobe Mercury Playback Engine software.

Click here to read the whole press release.

Enjoy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fingerprints and video evidence lead to the arrest

This just in from WANE.com: "Warsaw police said fingerprints and video evidence lead to the arrest in the June 2010 burglary of an AutoZone store on East Center Street.

According to the Warsaw Police Department, Keith J. Vuittonet, 35, was arrested for Burglary at a mobile home in the Whispering Pines Trailer Court, north of Warsaw Friday afternoon.

Police believe Vuittonet entered the business through the roof on June 10, 2010, based on fingerprint and video evidence at the scene.

Vuittonet is also charged with Residential Entry in the home burglary in the Pierceton area.

Police also said Vuittonet had traveled to Texas shortly after the incidents and recently returned to the area.

He was booked into the Kosciusko County Jail and held o a $20,000 bond."

Click here to read the whole article. Expert services for imaging, video, audio, and cell phone analysis can be found here.

Enjoy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Adobe Carousel

This just in from Adobe: "During the Photoshop World 2011 keynote, Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) announced Adobe® Carousel™ for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and Mac OS. Adobe Carousel is designed for anyone who loves photographs, takes a lot of them, and needs a simple way to view, browse, adjust and share them without worrying about manual syncing or storage. Adobe Carousel uses the powerful photo-processing technology that is used in Adobe Photoshop® Lightroom®, so customers get the finest photo-editing results delivered consistently no matter what the device. Photos look great and are easy to share directly with family and friends.

Adobe Carousel is comprised of a set of client apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Mac OS desktops (versions for Windows and other devices are expected in the first half of 2012). When customers import their photo library into Adobe Carousel, or take new photos using Adobe Carousel on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, those photos are automatically accessible on any supported device through the cloud-based smart mesh technology incorporated in Adobe Carousel. Once imported, any edits, deletions or additions to the library made on one device are automatically updated across all devices linked with the account. With Adobe Carousel, manual syncing and device storage limitations are a thing of the past.

Setting up Adobe Carousel is easy. Customers will just download the apps, set up a subscription plan on their iPhone and iPad, and they are ready to go. Subscribers can import a virtually unlimited number of JPEG files, and install Adobe Carousel apps on as many of their compatible devices as they want.

“With Adobe Carousel we are extending the power of Adobe’s imaging expertise beyond the desktop and onto tablets and smartphones, delivering instant access to your complete photo library and the freedom to edit and share photos anywhere, any time,” said Winston Hendrickson, vice president of Digital Imaging Products, Adobe. “Thanks to Adobe Carousel, users never need to worry about wasting time syncing, remembering if a photo was saved to a particular device, or worrying about maxing out storage on their iPhone or iPad.”

Familiar multi-touch gestures provide a fun and interactive experience to explore tens of thousands of photos quickly and easily, and Adobe’s powerful photo-processing engine lets users adjust exposure, shadows, highlights, white balance, vibrance, clarity and contrast. There are also over a dozen “Looks” that allow customers to quickly experiment with the appearance of a photo. Adobe Carousel simplifies and enhances photo sharing by allowing subscribers to invite friends and family members to collaborate on a photo library free of charge – so anyone with a Carousel capable device can view existing photos and contribute new ones, apply adjustments and Looks to images, and easily grab and flag favorite photos. Users can also share photos by sending them directly to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr or via email.

Pricing and Availability
The Adobe Carousel apps will be available through the iTunes App Store and for Mac later this month. Through Jan. 31, 2012, Adobe plans to offer Adobe Carousel for a special introductory price of US$59.99/year or US$5.99/month. Anyone subscribing at that price will be able to renew at that same price for an additional two years. At the conclusion of the introductory offer, Adobe Carousel will be US$99.99/year or US$9.99/month. By subscribing, customers automatically receive any enhancements and updates to Adobe Carousel at no additional charge. Customers receive a complimentary subscription for up to 30 days and can purchase a monthly or yearly subscription at any time from their iPad or iPhone.

Customers can download and install the Adobe Carousel apps as many times and across as many devices as they want as a part of their subscription (no additional fees apply). For more information, including system requirements, visit www.photoshop.com/carousel

I'm thinking that this is more of a personal type app - and not necessarily for LE use ... at least that's how I'm planning on using it. On the other hand, it could help for court prep, depositions, and other cases where you might need instant access to your images.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2011 HTCIA International Training Conference & Expo

I'll be at the HTCIA Conference next week in Indian Wells, Ca, talking about Cell Phones. My partner, Eric Wahlberg (scarry good at getting evidence out of cell phones), will be hosting a class on using FinalMobile to script evidence retrieval.

If you're planning on being there, stop by and say hello.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Changes to Rule 26

From the BullsEye Blog: "On Dec. 1, 2010, a major change took effect in the federal rule governing expert witness reports, giving draft reports the protection of the work-product doctrine and exempting them from mandatory disclosure. At the time, attorneys and experts hailed the change as a long-overdue step that would reduce both the cost and contentiousness of litigation.

Now, having had six months to live with the new rule, the assessment of many attorneys and experts remains favorable but somewhat muted. While there is general agreement that the change was for the better and has simplified the process to a degree, most attorneys and experts report that the actual impact on their practices has been negligible.

“It has simplified the report process and removed some of the archaic hurdles in the process,” says David Donoghue, a partner at Holland & Knight in Chicago. “But I do not think it has simplified expert discovery overall because many are still testing and litigating the boundaries of the new rule, particularly what information is in fact discoverable.”

The Dec. 1 revision of Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure changed what had been the practice ever since the rule’s last major revision in 1993. No longer does the rule require full discovery of draft expert reports and broad disclosure of any communications between an expert and trial counsel.

Instead, those communications now come under the protection of the work-product doctrine, prohibiting discovery of draft expert reports and limiting discovery of attorney-expert communications. Still allowed is full discovery of the expert’s opinions and of the facts or data used to support them ..."

Click here to read the whole article. Expert services for imaging, video, audio, and cell phone analysis can be found here.

Enjoy.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Budget Cuts Slash Expert Funds

This just in from the BullsEye Blog: "Despite seeing the first signs of an improving economy, both the legal industry and governmental agencies are still experiencing a budget crunch. Changing fee structures at law firms and debates over the federal budget have left both groups with limited funds to locate and retain experts.

In the last few months most government agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, have been forced to defend their very expensive price tags. SEC Chairwoman, Mary Shapiro, told Senate Banking Committee members that budget cuts have caused reductions in personnel, technology and litigation expenses, including the amount spent on expert witnesses. Although funds may be limited, locating the best experts is still vital to a successful case. When equally qualified experts present opposing facts to the court, the most persuasive and best credentialed experts often carry the most weight with juries.

These experts not only look impressive on paper, but also have the intangible ability to communicate with judges and juries. Unfortunately, many of these experts appear at first to be unobtainable to those with lesser litigation budgets because of larger fee structures.

Click here to read the whole article. Expert services for imaging, video, audio, and cell phone analysis can be found here.

Enjoy.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Adobe CreatePDF for iOS

Yesterday Adobe released Adobe CreatePDF as an app for iOS devices, such as iPhones and iPads. This app will enable you to open any Office, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Image, Text, or RTF files as a PDF on your iOS device. Just use the ‘Open in’ to send your files to the CreatePDF application.

Click here to read the whole article and watch the video. Expert services for imaging, video, audio, and cell phone analysis can be found here.

Enjoy.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Expert Reports: Should Lawyers Keep Hands Off?

From the BullsEye Newsletter: "Hands off or hands on? That is the question for litigators and experts alike as to the lawyer's role in writing the expert's report.

The answers lawyers give to that question are anything but black-and-white. Rather, many trial lawyers see their role in the report as a matter of nuance, finessed through experience. Whereas the expert is skilled in a subject, they say, the lawyer is skilled in storytelling. The lawyer's job is to ensure that the expert's report conveys both the subject and the story.

"It is an art, I want to stress," says Michael J. Abernathy, chair of the Intellectual Property Department at Bell, Boyd & Lloyd, Chicago. "You have to be involved in this without crossing the line in terms of improperly molding the expert's opinion."

Federal courts require a written expert report pursuant to Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. State court rules vary in their requirements for a report. Rule 26 explicitly states that the report is to be "prepared and signed by the witness."

But does Rule 26 mean the lawyer must give the expert carte blanche in writing the report? Lawyers generally agree it does not, but they do not necessarily agree on the appropriate degree of their involvement. The danger of a lawyer's over-involvement is that it opens the report to impeachment.

"I would rather have a very objective report with minimal attorney input than a report which is overly managed by counsel," says Russell Boltwood, vice president of licensing and intellectual property at UTStarcom Inc. in Alameda, Calif. "Ultimately, a report which is heavily managed by attorneys for content will not likely withstand good impeachment by opposing counsel's experts."

At the same time, under-involvement is equally risky, exposing a lawyer to loss of control of the evidence needed to make the case. Andrew R. McGaan, a litigator with Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, recalls his fear as a young lawyer of being too hands-on with an expert and how a mentor changed his view.

"A senior lawyer at my firm once said to me: Would you rather have it come out that you played a role in the opinion or would you rather have come out an opinion in which you played no role?"

Click here to read the whole article. Expert services for imaging, video, audio, and cell phone analysis can be found here.

Enjoy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

When experts disagree

Another cautionary tale from IMS Expert Services: "t happens all the time between opposing experts in litigation. One side brings on an expert to look for holes in the work of the expert on the other side.

But what happens when one expert exposes another expert's work as flawed – and both experts are working for you?

What if your own expert comes to you and questions the methods or conclusions of another of your experts?

Perhaps you retained one expert as a consultant to conduct initial reviews and lay the groundwork for your case. Later, you retained a second expert in the same field to testify.

You present the consulting expert's work to the testifying expert as background to be used in formulating his own opinion. The testifying expert looks at the earlier work and proclaims, "I can't use this. The analysis is flawed because of X, Y and Z."

At this point, there is no option of sweeping the issue under the rug. Had the consulting expert's work remained just that, it would not have been discoverable under the federal rules. But once it was provided to the testifying expert, it became fair game.

That means that your opponent is likely both to learn about the consulting expert's work and also to learn of the testifying expert's condemnation of it.

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Enjoy.