Over the last 28 years, I have worked on many video forensic cases. This blog post is about the top three things I have learned and want to share with you about preparing your video evidence for use in court.
Number One: Document and maintain a chain of custody on the video evidence. Too often there is no chain of custody maintained on video evidence. The lack of a chain of custody makes it hard for all parties in any litigation to understand the purpose and authenticity of the video evidence.
Number Two: Always use the original digital video file for any litigation. If you are not sure if it’s the original or if you believe it has been altered, then it is not considered the original and you must go back to the source that recorded the footage in order to confirm. Bottom line: if both parties in the litigation agree on the video evidence and consider it original, you are okay. Only when there is a disagreement should you go back to the recording source and compare that recording to the video evidence.
Number Three: Make sure your video plays on the equipment that is used in the court. Many attorneys will enter a courtroom with a piece of video evidence and not realize that the court is not equipped to play the type of digital video file that the evidence has been presented in. It never hurts to rehearse your presentation of the video evidence before it is finally presented in court. Will the jury be able to hear the audio? Do you need a PA speaker and amplifier to make the audio louder for everyone in court to hear?
There are many other factors to consider when using your video evidence in litigation, but these are the top three in my opinion. Ask a video forensic expert for help because your evidence can be removed from your case if it is not prepared and presented properly or if there is doubt on the authenticity.
photo credit: St Georges Hall Court Room via photopin (license)