Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Gov. Chris Christie's Technology Bridge

As reported by the media, it has been discovered that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's staff was involved in lane closures on a ramp that feeds the George Washington Bridge as political retribution. This situation came to light when the Asbury Free Press obtained emails and text messages from the Governor's office, we presume through the use of New Jersey's open records act/right to know law.
Gov chris christie text message transcript christie email transcript george washington bridge

While we won't get into the political mess on this issue, there are two points that are important to note in our experience with electronic communications and investigations/court cases.

1. Electronic communications are always discoverable

By discoverable, we don't mean these types of records can be found if you look in enough drawers. What discoverable means is depends on the situation: a) litigation or b) as part of an open records/FOIA request.

When parties enter litigation, evidence can be presented to prove a crime was committed or not committed, or to make a point when seeking damages under civil litigation. This evidence includes electronic communications, and those records can be sought under court order by opposing parties. That means if someone drags you into court, and they have a reason to believe you have email or text message records that prove their case, they can request a judge to order you to produce them. And if you deleted them, a reasonable effort must be made to recover them.

(aside: Richmond Computer specializes in recovering deleted text messages from iPhones and Androids)

email text message transcript court litigation philadelphia

2. Presentation of electronic communications is key

As noted with the records obtained by, the email and text message records were not given any type of special formatting, enhancement or redaction (removal of personal/irrelevant sections of the record) when presented to the public.

While its fairly easy today for any of us to print emails or extract text messages for printing, producing only relevant parts of the conversation enhances the records by presenting as evidence only the parts of the communications that are needed to make the point/case. In addition, enhancements such as key word indexes give the requester or party presenting the information the ability to quickly identify relevant  sections of the records needed in the investigation or court case.

One of the enhancements we add to our text message transcripts is page and line numbers, which allows litigants to quickly refer to specific communications during trial. In addition, we add in breaks to identify when conversations start and stop which add insight to how conversations unfolded.

View our transcript samples here:

While the rest of the world will be watching the future of Governor Christie's political career unfold, if you find yourself in need of an e-mail or SMS text message transcript, please contact us for a free consultation. We are based in Philadelphia, but our services are available nationwide.

Keywords: Governor Chris Christie, George Washington Bridge traffic study, text message communications, text message transcript

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