Capture Text Messages for Use in Court

A reader recently asked for an app to capture text messages – a very understandable request. Here are some DIY options to consider.

Screenshot Method

Most everyone is familiar with this irritating and incomplete approach, which involves taking partial images of texts that end up overlapping. Screenshots are a pain, often lack date and time stamps, don’t capture contact information or other metadata, and must be combined somehow to form a PDF. Not a great way to go. Next, please.

Decipher TextMessage and Tansee for iOS

The Decipher TextMessage app uses five simple steps to capture text messages for export to PDF. Unlike the screenshot method, it automatically grabs date and time stamps, attachments, and accurate contact information for senders and recipients. It can also recover deleted conversations.

Decipher TextMessage is $29.99 and uses the iTunes interface. If you’re dubious about spending thirty bucks sight unseen, take advantage of the free trial, but this app has a lot going for it. Read more about Decipher TextMessage here.

Tansee iPhone Transfer SMS is another great DIY solution at the same price point for a three-year license. It uses its own proprietary software installed on your desktop rather than iTunes.

The clean printout rendered by (Tansee) allows for a seamless production. (Users can) Bates-stamp each PDF page and produce the thread in one comprehensive file, rather than in disjointed screenshot images pieced together in an unorganized manner. Use of this software allows for a more efficient in-house review process, as well as a more transparent production set to opposing counsel.

A disadvantage of this software is that it does not retain the actual native file, merely an organized photocopy with some of the relevant metadata attached to each message.

Cell Phone Extraction for the Small Firm.

SMS Backup+ for Android

SMS Backup+ is a free app in the Google Play Store that allows users to store texts in a gmail account. Conversations can be printed to PDF using a web browser. Sounds simple enough, but since this is a backup program it can only capture what is presently stored on a phone. There is no mechanism to restore deleted conversations. Another downside: reviewers say the app is buggy. However, as one noted: “I tried other SMS Backup apps, but they are not the same or as good! This app is significantly better (in my opinion).”

Other Options

For other print-to-PDF choices consider:

iOS

Print Utility Lite, Xerox Print Portal, To Print, Mobikin or iPhone Backup Extractor.

Android

Mobile PrintShare, Printhand Mobile, or Mobikin.

Evidentiary Concerns

The evidentiary concerns surrounding use of text messages are substantial. As mentioned, accurate date and time stamps and true identities of senders and recipients are critical. Capturing location data, attachments, and special characters can be troublesome. See How to Print Text Messages for Use as Evidence.

As this post points out, before extracting evidence from smart devices consider employing expert forensic help – not just to get it right, but to secure an independent witness if authenticity isn’t stipulated.

All rights reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis

20 Apps for Lawyers

It’s been a while since we talked apps. From the first iPhone/iPad educational tracks at the ABA TECHSHOW, iOS apps for lawyers have only grown. We’re an attractive market with money to spend, even if our profession tends to be slow in adopting new technology.

This begs the question: which new (or newer) apps are among the best? Which of the tried and true are still worth using? Check out my curated list of the top 20 most-mentioned apps for lawyers:

Calendaring and Docketing

SmartDockets, DocketLaw, and CourtDaysPro promise to help users quickly and easily calculate deadlines using federal and state automated court rules. Choose the court, the trigger, the date and time, hit “Calculate” to get the result, and post to your calendar.

Courtroom Presentations

Looking for courtroom presentation software? TrialPad is the most popular kid on the block. The developer, LitSoftware, boasts “Whether you need to display a document in an evidentiary hearing, annotate a photo during a deposition, or compare, highlight, and call out two documents for a jury, TrialPad makes it easy. And while you can plug and play in the courtroom or the boardroom, you can also present wirelessly with AppleTV.” TrialDirector is free, and a good alternative if you have limited exhibits and no need to display video.

Credit Card Processing

SquareRegister lands high on the popularity list, but isn’t the best when it comes to trust accounting compliance. Honestly, you’d be better off with LawPay or Headnote.

Digital Signing Apps

Jeff Richardson of iPhoneJD favors SignMyPad Pro for digital signature capture. I’m a fan of DocuSign and HelloSign, which integrate with some of the more popular cloud-based practice management programs.

Encrypted Messaging for Lawyers

If you care about secure client communications (and you should), eielegal is for you. It offers “encrypted information exchange,” thus the name, and also creates an archive of conversations. As you’ll recall from a post two years ago, texts are part of the client file and should be preserved. The eielegal app solves that problem, as does Zipwhip.

File Sharing, Storage, Markup, and Management

Dropbox remains the most popular app for file sharing and storage. While the standard version will get you far, the advanced version at $20/month is a great price point for unlimited file storage. Advanced data protection is available for both.

Want to read, markup, sign, and share docs? Consider iAnnotate.

Readdle Docs and GoodReader are the kings of file management – superior to iOS’ “Files” app. Both allow users to open, access, and work with files regardless of where they are stored.

Legal Research

Everyone loves the Fastcase app but if you’re looking for an alternative, consider Westlaw or LexisAdvance.

Reminders

Sometimes free is best. The built-in iOS Reminders app does a stellar job of creating time- and location-based reminders. Tell your iPhone: “Remind me to call John Doe when I get to my office.” When you return, your iPhone will notice you’re in the office and remind you to make the call. Doesn’t get better than that!

All Rights Reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis

 

Phishing Scam Hits OJD Users

Here are the details.

21 Key Takeaways of Electronic Storage

When it comes to eDiscovery, the guru is Craig Ball.

Craig recently posted about the upcoming 2019 Georgetown eDiscovery Training Academy, a week-long, immersive boot camp in electronically stored information (ESI).

The technology of e-discovery is its centerpiece, and I’ve lately added a 21-point synopsis of the storage concepts, technical takeaways and vocabulary covered.

Here is Craig’s synopsis verbatim:

  1. Common law imposes a duty to preserve potentially-relevant information in anticipation of litigation
  2. Most information is electronically-stored information (ESI)
  3. Understanding ESI entails knowledge of information storage media, encodings and formats
  4. There are many types of e-storage media of differing capacities, form factors and formats:a) analog (phonograph record) or digital (hard drive, thumb drive, optical media)b) mechanical (electromagnetic hard drive, tape, etc.) or solid-state (thumb drive, SIM card, etc.)
  5. Computers don’t store “text,” “documents,” “pictures,” “sounds.” They only store bits (ones or zeroes)a) ASCII or Unicode for alphanumeric characters;b) JPG for photos, DOCX for Word files, MP3 for sound files, etc.
  6. Digital information is encoded as numbers by applying various encoding schemes:
  7. We express these numbers in a base or radix (base 2 binary, 10 decimal, 16 hexadecimal, 60 sexagesimal). E-mail messages encode attachments in base 64.
  8. The bigger the base, the smaller the space required to notate and convey the information
  9. Digitally encoded information is stored (written):a) physically as bytes (8-bit blocks) in sectors and partitionsb) logically as clusters, files, folders and volumes
  10. Files use binary header signatures to identify file formats (type and structure) of data
  11. Operating systems use file systems to group information as files and manage filenames and metadata
  12. File systems employ filename extensions (e.g., .txt, .jpg, .exe) to flag formats
  13. All ESI includes a component of metadata (data about data) even if no more than needed to locate it
  14. A file’s metadata may be greater in volume or utility than the contents of the file it describes
  15. File tables hold system metadata about the file (e.g., name, locations on disk, MAC dates): it’s CONTEXT
  16. Files hold application metadata (e.g., EXIF geolocation data in photos, comments in docs): it’s CONTENT
  17. File systems allocate clusters for file storage; deleting files releases cluster allocations for reuse
  18. If unallocated clusters aren’t reused, deleted files may be recovered (“carved”) via computer forensics
  19. Forensic (“bitstream”) imaging is a method to preserve both allocated and unallocated clusters
  20. Because data are numbers, data can be digitally “fingerprinted” using one-way hash algorithms (MD5, SHA1)
  21. Hashing facilitates identification, deduplication and de-NISTing of ESI in e-discovery

If you don’t follow Ball in Your Court, you should.

All Rights Reserved 2019 – Beverly Michaelis

Proposed 2019 UTCRs

Comments are due by February 22, 2019 on the latest round of proposed changes to the UTCRs. These include:

New UTCRs

Proposed New UTCR 5.010 – Consumer Debt Collection Cases

Applies to cases filed by debt buyers and debt collectors acting on their behalf. Requires inclusion of identifying information in the action title, the body of the initiating pleading, and a completed Consumer Debt Collection Disclosure Statement (CDCDS). Directs the court to issue a 30-day notice of dismissal if the plaintiff fails to provide a CDCDS. When seeking a default, requires plaintiff to include a declaration under penalty of perjury that the plaintiff has complied with certain pleading requirements. Note: a sample CDCDS form will be made available by the OJD on its website. See proposed form on pages 70-73 of the Notice Seeking Public Comment on Proposed Uniform Trial Court Rules Changes for 2019.

Proposed New UTCR 11.110 – Exhibits in Juvenile Cases

Cedes power to local courts for creating a process to submit exhibits in juvenile cases. If electronic filing is permitted by SLR or order of the presiding judge, requires maintenance of an exhibit log, eFiling in conformance with UTCR 21.040, and a timeline for submission. Also see proposed amendments to UTCR 6.050, 6.120, 21.020, and 21.070; 11.120 (new).

Proposed New Chapter 24 – PCR Cases

Creates statewide rules for post-conviction relief (PCR) cases; replaces current SLRs on post-conviction relief. The proposed UTCRs would address case initiation; the defendant’s motion, demurrer, or answer; scheduling in complex cases with appointed counsel; exhibits; additional motions, briefings, and exhibits; disclosure of witnesses; appearance at hearings and trial; continuances; presiding post-conviction judge; and trial scheduling.

Repealed UTCRs

Repealed UTCR 2.010(7) – Certificate of Document Preparation

Removes the certificate of document preparation, which indicates whether a
litigant received assistance in completing the document and whether they paid
for that assistance.

Amended UTCRs

Amended UTCR 2.010(9) – Foreign Language Exhibits

Requires a person submitting a foreign language exhibit to simultaneously submit an English translation with a declaration signed by the translator. Forbids court interpreters from translating or interpreting exhibits during the course of a proceeding; allows interpreters to interpret oral testimony regarding the content of an exhibit.

Amended UTCR 2.010(13) – Format of Case Citations

Changes the format for case name citations from underlined to italicized to align trial court citations with the citation format used in the appellate courts.

Amended UTCR 5.150 – Streamlined Trials (Formerly Expedited)

Implements improvements to time to trial, pretrial conferences, written discovery agreements, limitations on discovery, deadline for completion of discovery, discovery disputes, trial stipulations, and the related forms.

Amended UTCR 8.010 – Declaration in lieu of Affidavit

Allows the use of a declaration as an alternative to notarized affidavits for filings in
certain family law proceedings. Also see proposed amendments to UTCR 8.040.

Amended UTCR 8.090 – Certificates Re Child Support Proceedings, Orders, or Judgments

Requires certificate to be placed at the end of the motion or petition, immediately above the declaration line; adds new information to certificate. A model form containing the required information is available on the OJD website.

Amended 10.020 – DMV Record

Requires the DMV to electronically file the record when a final order of suspension is appealed to a circuit court; would allow each circuit court to adopt its own SLR describing how and in what form the DMV record must be submitted. Also see proposed deletion of UTCR 21.070(3)(k) removing DMV records from the list of documents that must be conventionally filed.

Amended 21.070(3) – Conventional Filing of ERPO Petitions

Adds extreme risk protection order (ERPO) petitions, and supporting affidavits, to the list of documents that must be conventionally filed.

Amended 21.070(5) – Allowing Local Courts to Adopt SLR Requiring Separate Notice of Expedited Filings

Allows local courts to adopt an SLR requiring that filers separately notify the court that an expedited filing has been submitted.

Amended 23.020 – Complex Litigation Cases

Removes the requirement that parties to a case assigned to the Oregon Complex
Litigation Court (OCLC) must share the cost of copying and providing the trial
court file to the assigned OCLC judge, but allows the OCLC judge to direct the
parties to provide copies of documents, in a manner the judge specifies.

Commenting on the Proposed UTCRs

Comments can be submitted online, via email, or by traditional mail.

Online
Go to the Notice Seeking Public Comment on Proposed Uniform Trial Court Rules Changes for 2019 and click on the button next to the item of interest.

Email
utcr@ojd.state.or.us.

Traditional mail
UTCR Reporter
Supreme Court Building
1163 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301-2563

To attend the spring meeting of the committee on March 8, 2019 contact the UTCR Reporter at utcr@ojd.state.or.us or Bruce C. Miller at 503-986-5500 to schedule a time for your appearance. Recommendations that are adopted by the Chief Justice will take effect August 1, 2019.

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2019