CSI Type Stuff


Jurors always expect every case to have a CSI level of investigatory work on it and it is nearly impossible to measure up to TV, which is of course, Fiction People!  It is very, very, time-consuming and unrewarding to try to get text messages from defendant’s phones or to show that someone was texting and driving before a crash.  Usually, texting and driving crashes are severe and it does not usually matter why the defendant crashed into you. It matters to you or the client A LOT.  It does not really matter to the lawyer.  We know the defendant was texting. There is no other way to explain the crash.  However, prying text messages out of a person’s personal Verizon account or worse a smaller carrier is really really tough.

I have a new case I am working on where there is a criminal aspect to the case.  The phone in question was properly seized and it has now taken a whole year for the text messages to be downloaded in Harrisburg by the state police.  A year is forever.  And that is with criminal charges at issue.  Civil inquiries work on a much slower track.

Jurors also love to see video of crashes, but most of my cases have no video.  The ones that do have video are damning for the defense and never go to trial because of the video.  Here is a video of a case that will never go to trial. My client is on the bicycle and is crushed by the car.  The car plainly never stops at the stop sign, never looks for passing traffic, and just flat out is at fault.  End of case right?

Well, the video was shot by a neighbors surveillance camera totally by accident.  Without the video, this would have been a he said/he said situation between the driver and the cyclist.  With the video, there is really nowhere to go here.  At the deposition, the driver conceded that he was 100% at fault.  He tried to say that there were school kids at the bus stop blocking his view of the cyclist, but again, the video busted that claim up.  And, the school district confirmed that there was no bus pickup that day as it was mid-August.

So, we really cannot create evidence when it is not there, unless we do an accident reconstruction and those are only usually used for paralysis or death cases where liability or fault is in dispute.  They are expensive processes that are only justified on occasion.