Although we have well learned the protocols and practices used to evaluate the admissibility of recorded evidence in our many years of practice, our goal as consultants is to screen the evidence for forensic issues, identify what the forensic findings will be and then select the particular type of expert witness who can be the most helpful. In this way, trial counsel understands the scope of the forensic examination and its likely result before deciding to employ an expert to testify. Another benefit of this approach is that a forensic expert is retained only when there is a known technical issue to be dealt with in a specific conversation, rather than pay fees to forensically screen all of the recorded evidence at considerably greater expense.
We also obtain the services of experts who may well specialize precisely in the type of issue existing in the recordings in question. Not all forensic experts are trained in the same disciplines or are even qualified to testify across the entire range of possible grounds for the exclusion of a recording from evidence. Expertise in analog tape formats may well not share the same expertise as do experts working in digital audio formats, nor do analog video and digital video experts apply identical forensic protocols.
It is a common misconception that forensic expertise is used only to exclude recorded evidence. Today, there are many avenues for using expert testimony as a supporting component of a trial strategy based upon the inclusion of the recordings, rather than their exclusion. Linguistics and acoustics now have roles to play that emphasize the probative value of the conversation and the contextual import of the sounds also recorded. In criminal cases, conversational analysis, as well as computer and software forensics, are potential resources in cases involving sting operations and land line and cell phone wiretapping. If we include cell and data communications tracking technologies in our forensic framework, the footprint of relevant technology and science grows broader still.
A knowledgeable early case assessment within the attorney client privilege of what forensic audio, video, and digital forensics can contribute presents both cost and strategic advantages in recorded evidence cases, whether the ultimate goal is the exclusion or the admission of that evidence.