Because a multitude of methods exist by which video evidence can become tainted, evaluative measures should likewise include an equally diverse analysis. The complexities involved in establishing the authenticity, reliability, and credibility of video evidence requires comprehensive video analysis, which is more appropriately provided from an expert specialized in the field of video examination. However, legal support services employed for video analysis purposes, must be carefully selected such the expertise provided is both suitable and comprehensive, but also affordable.
When digital media was still in its infancy, it was not uncommon for civil practitioners to employ multiple video experts to confirm the evidentiary value of a particular video sought to be admitted into evidence. Accordingly, and in response to increasing demands for video experts in civil litigation created primarily through technological advancements, a diverse field of expertise involving video analysis has emerged. These support services, which seek to combine forensic analysis with a variety digital technologies, offer practitioners a convenient manner for which to overcome evidentiary issues concerning video evidence.
For example, voice comparison analysis can play an important role in evidentiary challenges. Such dual analysis of both video and audio components demand specialized expertise. In his publication, Forensic Science: Current Issues, Future Directions, Douglas H. Ubelaker explains “Since forensic audio examinations rely heavily on knowledge of various scientific principles, including acoustics, electronics and digital signal processing theory, practitioners in the field often have bachelor of science degrees in fields such as engineering, physical sciences or computer engineering.” Consequently, selection of an appropriate video expert necessitates sufficient knowledge concerning which particular evidentiary issues or challenges are likely to arise
Data Recovery is another form of analysis performed by video experts. In our world of digital media, it is not difficult for digitally stored information, such as video, to be erased with a simple click of a button. What many are unaware of is that deleted information that has been created and/or stored electronically can often be retrieved. In such cases, expertise provided may combine computer science, forensics, and engineering with other related information technology fields. As stated by video analysis expert Steve Cain, in his article Corrupted DVD’s: An Emerging Forensic Problem Which may Constitute Untrustworthy Evidence, “Forensically, DVD’s and their different formats must be analyzed with more effective data recovery software to remain admissible as reliable tape evidence.” Because a variety of certifications related specifically to data recovery exist, it is important to select an expert according to the precise source from which retrieval of data is being sought.
What can litigators learn from this? Video evidence should not be considered to be as airtight as litigators previously relied on, but neither should a particular expert employed for the purpose of video evidence analysis. The profound manners in which technology has forever altered the evidentiary value and admissibility criteria in our U.S. Court systems is certainly a noteworthy area of concern for the parties to civil litigation–particularly with regard to digital media, and electronically stored information. In an effort to maximize the beneficial value provided from legal expert support services, a wise practitioner, therefore, might maintain, as a primary concern, that such expertise is specifically catered to the individual needs required by a particular case. In short, you wouldn’t hire an expert specialized in audio analysis to examine a video that had no sound.
By: Alicia McKnight, J.D.