I have litigation support application but I am not licensed to practice litigation support.

The application can read many standard load formats for what as been produced.

The purpose is you can take it to the court room and and have everything without an Internet connection.

Finally the question.

If a customer cannot load the data and the sends the raw data to me to load is that breaking the chain of custody?

It has already been Produced. Has chain of custody passed? Clearly I am not an attorney.

This is US.

There is no chain of custody tag

Since IANAL I am sure some of my terms are wrong. Once a trial is granted each side can ask for data. In the Enron case 800,000 documents were collected and I don't know how many were actually produced. There will be a matter and they typically agree to certain file shares and certain email accounts. And often certain words - it is often referred to as go fish. If that come back to be 20 millions documents they will argue to trim the collection. The collection starts the chain of custody. The data is collected (e.g. hard drives), it is typically loaded into a litigation support application. There will be a formal definition of responsive document. In the Enron case it was certain type of trades. Responsive documents are identified and redacted. This is formally called review. Typically each page produced will have a bates number. Then the documents and agreed meta data are produced to the opposing party. There are a few common formats for these load files. Along with the production will be a chain of custody showing what server(s) and people that had access. It is formally called a production. Like me as a programmer they don't typically even let me have access to the customer data. If I have to get in I certainly don't change data but they would need to list me as someone that had access. Not every produced document will be introduced as evidence. The sides have to provide each other and the court a list of documents by bates number. There is no formal chain of custody between the time it is produced and introduced as evidence that I can tell. If the document has been altered it is up to the other side to say no that document has been altered since we produced it.

So lets say documents were formally produced to law firm A. If they have trouble loading and need me to load the documents into my application would they need to tell the court and the opposing council a third party had access to the data? How can I best manage the that?

These load files come can come in jacked up. Control characters that look like they were inserted intentionally. You may agree to certain delimiters and 1/2 through a file they will change. Or delimiters conveniently in a meta field.

99% of the time I would not even need access to the actual document. I could just fix the load files with the meta data and have them load the actual documents. But sometimes you get jacked up file names and file paths. With the litigation support service firms I work with I have never had to access the actual document but I have a system guy I can tell here is what is wrong and here is what needs to be fixed.

Most of these ligation support applications are Web (HTML) based so it is hard to have a stand alone version that could be loaded on a lap top and take into court. You cannot always count on Internet access in a court room. Mine is an EXE where I can easily include the server side with the client and run it on a lap top.

Productions are almost never symmetric. If you are suing a pharmaceutical they may produce a million documents but as complainant you may only produce like 10. And the pharmaceutical will produced jacked up load files.

  • The situation needs to be described more clearly. Do you mean e.g. "If X wants to show a YouTube video in court but cannot download the video into some program, can I do it for them"?
    – user6726
    Jul 10, 2016 at 17:44
  • @user6726 No this is more document based (e.g. email). But is is actually files so we do get some video but that need to be handled custom. Even if is is responsive there are not pages to bates stamp and redact is difficult. So if had to send it off to professional video editor that would need to be in the chain of custody.
    – paparazzo
    Jul 10, 2016 at 19:12
  • This sounds interesting, but I can't make sense of it. Maybe you could more clearly delineate background (e.g., "Here is what I know, and here is how it works") from the question (e.g., "Here is what I would like to know")? Especially apparent terms of art like "bates stamp" and "jacked up files?"
    – feetwet
    Jul 10, 2016 at 21:06
  • @feetwet It is closed. Bates number is a pretty standard legal term en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bates_numbering I gave very specific examples of jacked up - control characters and misuse of delimiters in a field. Thank you for considering my question. I am tech person with litigators for customers and this is my life.
    – paparazzo
    Jul 10, 2016 at 21:20
  • Question is just on hold. If you can edit or rewrite it to make it more clear it can be reopened.
    – feetwet
    Jul 10, 2016 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


The question doesn't make much sense (chain of custody generally relates to admissibility of evidence) - admissibility issue rest with ER's (ER: evidence rules found usually under "general application rules" -chain of custody is normally used in criminal cases for evidence to insure no alterations to the evidence etc. I don't understand how format of data ties to chain of custody. However, simply getting an affidavit (or declaration depending on applicable criteria; namely, in state versus out of state i.e. affidavit for out of state and declaration for in state as a rule of thumb) from the original sender that says, "this is a true and correct copy of original...that was produced or obtained in the normal course of business or from my email ..." or "I verify this is what it is ..." in order to turn the evidence into admissible evidence -


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