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

 

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

Quadripartite Relationships

Quote

The Washington State Bar Committee on Professional Ethics recently released advisory opinion No. 201802 addressing “quadripartite” relationships.

As Mark Fucile writes on NW Sidebar:

Tripartite relationships among an insurer, the insured, and defense counsel have been delineated extensively in both court decisions and advisory opinions. “Quadripartite” relationships, by contrast, are a fairly new development and remain comparatively unplumbed.

While the addition of a fourth party to the insurer/insured/defense counsel relationship is rare, it can occur. This raises the question: can defense counsel share confidential information with the fourth party?

The answer under advisory opinion no. 201802 is yes – if the client consents and if doing so is in client’s interest and does not jeopardize attorney/client or work product privilege.

Oregon has no opinion on quadripartite relationships.

All Rights Reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis

Preserving Mobile Data in Anticipation of Litigation

In a recent post, eDiscovery expert Craig Ball makes the case for routine preservation of data contained on mobile devices. I concur.

The tendency is to dismiss or ignore the degree to which we lean on our smartphones and tablets. We either assume the data is preserved elsewhere or we convince ourselves that mobile devices couldn’t possibly contain anything relevant or unique. Both beliefs are false. Craig’s post is a wakeup call for both law firms and their clients. Consider his key points:

  • Texting has overtaken email as a means of direct and candid communication. No competent business person would never send a letter or email without retaining a copy. The same standard should apply to text messages.
  • Mobile data is accessible and easy to backup using iTunes. (Yes, I know the interface deserves a Rotten Tomatoes score of 0%, but it does work.)
  • Preserving data does not mean it must be produced.

There is much more to this topic, and I encourage you to read the full post.

A Lesson for Lawyers

There is a takeaway for lawyers too. In Oregon, the “client file” includes text messages if they bear on the merits of a client’s position in the matter. This begs the question: are you preserving client texts? If not, look into Zipwhip, which I’ve discussed before. It has many advantages, not the least of which is the ability to save texts as PDFs to the client file.

All Rights Reserved 2017 Beverly Michaelis