I have been somewhat of a “computer geek” since the early days of computing. Before law school I built and sold specialty computers and designed Internet web pages. This was a simple time when all you really had to know was basic html! In today’s world, all things computer related have become more complex. Nevertheless, I try to stay as current as possible. In fact, just a few years ago I took a class at the Tennessee Technology Center in Shelbyville offering training in cyber forensics. This class was taught by my good friend Steve Mallard and it was a great class. I have used the information I learned in that class in a large number of family law cases since then.
What I normally deal with is a situation were one spouse makes allegations of improper conduct by the other while using the computer. This may be looking at porn, child porn, registering with adult dating sites or sending instant messages or e-mail. Usually, one spouse, my client, brings the computer to me for analyses and to find evidence. In cases where the evidence is critical and needed for trial, I send the computer own to an outside expert who can testify at trial (if I do the work, then I cannot testify if I am representing a party). If the evidence is simply needed as proof for the spouse to “know for sure”, then I will use certain software to track the computers use. This software may include xways trace, Pandora Recovery, diskdigger or other similar type of software. Almost always, the suspected information is able to be found and undeleted. Just recently, I found actual video of a husband having sex with another women during his marriage to my client. This man thought he had hidden the video from his wife. The truth is he had. He didn’t think she would take it to someone who knows what they are doing. The video made all the difference in that case. On occasion, I have even performed such a search for people not involved in an actual case. These are people who want to know the truth before they take action. This most often leads to a divorce being filed once the dirty laundry is aired.
Another way technology has come in handy in the practice of family law is the use of social networking sites. It amazes me the information people will put on their site! What amazes me even more is the look on their face when I pull out printed versions of their page at trial and surprise them with their own admissions. Seriously, what are people thinking? One case involved a mother who had petitioned the court to regain custody of her teenage girls. The girls had been removed from mother a few years prior as a result of her methamphetamine addiction. Once my client came to me, I started my normal investigation of the mother and found her and her daughter’s my space pages. Her page was private. Through a little magic, legal I might add, I was able to view the mother’s page. Gold mine! Comments to her daughters about drinking, smoking pot and sex with their boyfriends and what a piece of !@#$ their father was. After showing her attorney these pages, case over. Father maintained custody and was able to protect these girls from their mother!
Bottom line, I love being a “computer geek” such that I am capable of protecting my clients needs in a much needed way. Few attorney’s are able to understand computers, much less how to use them as evidence to win a case. If you know of anyone who could benefit from my services, please send them my direction. And remember, next time you post a questionable comment or photo online, it may come back to haunt you!