Texas enacted electronic discovery laws in 1999, and these laws allowed discovery in civil suits to include information stored electronically, such as emails, e-calenders, voice mails, instant messages and chat room conversations, as well as more traditional business communication such as memorandum and contracts. Data stored on personal electronics and hand-held devices can be made part of discovery during a civil suit.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have also been amended to include discovery of information stored on electronic devices. Called ESI, or electronically stored information, this information has significantly changed the complexity of civil lawsuits.
Electronic discovery should be considered when businesses use vendors and contractors with their own electronic equipment and for rules and procedures for the use of personal electronics in the workplace for work-related activity.
Legal guidance should be sought on the proper storage of electronic business information. During the course of a civil lawsuit, destruction of electronic data and communications is considered spoliation of evidence. While computer forensics have become more sophisticated, spoliation is considered by many courts as evidence of, at the least, attempting to subvert discovery, and may be considered as an admission of guilt.
Attorney Jake Posey and the team at The Posey Law Firm strive to assist clients in all avenues of business management. For issues related to human resources such as employment law and civil rights, workplace safety, regulatory compliance, and issues of finance, the same care should be taken with electronic communications as communication on paper, and policies should be in place regarding erasure or destruction of electronic business information. Legal advice on this issue can reflect the latest court interpretations of the Texas electronic discovery laws.