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Monday, February 17, 2014

Delaware Supremes set prosecutor-friendly "lax standard" for social media evidence

It is typical both of the Delaware Supreme Court and WNJ reporting to laud the new judicial rules that allow prosecutors to use social media entries against defendants without having to prove that the defendants actually wrote them.

It is equally typical that the arguments by the Delaware Public Defender's Officer are buried deep inside the story and given almost no weight: 

Attorneys with the Delaware Public Defender's Office pointed to a standard used in Maryland where one side has to convince a judge "that the social media post was not falsified or created by another user" before it can be used at trial.
In this case, they argued, the prosecution should have been required to provide proof either from Facebook itself or from evidence from a computer hard drive associated with Parker to connect Parker to the posts.
Delaware Public Defender Brendan O'Neill said it is all about proving if someone made a statement. "That is where the fight is," he said, adding that "in our practice we would prefer a strict standard."
DiBianca said this is a difficult standard because it requires much more time, effort and money and sets a higher standard for the admissibility of social media evidence compared to other similar types of evidence – like handwritten letters. She added it is also particularly difficult in civil cases where attorneys are not as likely to get information from a social network operator as a criminal prosecutor.
Remember the good old days, when the point of the American criminal justice system was to protect the rights of the innocent, even at the expense of the prosecutor's "time, effort, and money"?

Apparently, if the Delaware Supreme Court rules stand, that's a thing of the past.

And how could those rules NOT stand?  Simple--if the General Assembly found the courage to enact the Maryland standard into law.

Oh, wait.  That would require . . . .

Never mind.

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