(Press-News.org) Defence lawyers face numerous challenges accessing and reviewing evidence from phones and computers, a new study shows.
Solicitors and barristers have reported their use of digital evidence can be restricted by limited or late access, large volumes of material, and tight turnaround times to secure legal aid funding and choose and instruct independent experts.
The research calls for more clarity and transparency around the collection and analysis of digital evidence and the streamlining of the format and presentation of information.
The current volume and diversity of digital evidence available escalates tensions, delays access to digital evidence and increases turnaround times for analysis.
Researchers surveyed 70 criminal law solicitors and barristers and carried out 22 interviews with 23 criminal law solicitors and barristers in early 2022.
Respondents noted how even 1GB of data produces unmanageable amounts of evidence to review. This means lawyers can feel unable to examine all the evidence presented by the prosecution and sometimes rely on the summaries provided by the prosecution. The inability to undertake independent checks can also result in omitting important details that can lead to miscarriages of justice.
The largest challenges identified were gaining access to data, the time taken to access and identify the relevant information, the ability to use the data in the format provided, and the difficulties processing and understanding data.
The research, by Dana Wilson-Kovacs and Rebecca Helm from the University of Exeter, Beth Growns from the University of Canterbury New Zealand and Lauren Redfern from King’s College London, is published open access in The International Journal of Evidence & Proof.
Professor Helm said: “There is a widespread need to raise the levels of understanding of digital evidence by all, including how it is gathered and when and how it may be challenged. Improving lawyers’ own digital literacy is key to ensuring they can adequately represent the interests of their clients.
“Respondents noted that “inaccessible” format and presentation of digital evidence presented by the prosecution could be “difficult to navigate and laborious to decipher”. Some described receiving “data dumps” which would slow down the progress of already overstretched defence teams. Respondents discussed the lack of timely access to data as another factor that could restrict both the legal aid funding stream and the capabilities of the defence.”
Professor Wilson-Kovacs said: “Some criminal defence lawyers may attempt to analyse data themselves because of the volume received from prosecution, the short time they have to prepare a response and secure legal aid funding, the limited amount of that funding and the independent expertise it pay for. This increases the risk of essential information being missed”.
“Those involved in the study said even when defence expert witnesses were secured, access to other relevant data held by the police depended largely on the goodwill of the prosecution and would typically occur too late to be able to undertake any meaningful analysis. The digital evidence made available to defence teams often lacked detail and context or was so heavily redacted that it was impossible to follow.”
Defence lawyers face challenges accessing and reviewing digital evidence, study shows
ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:
Barren habitat for sows leaves imprint on piglets’ brains
In a new study, researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden, together with colleagues from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, have investigated the impact that a barren living environment for sows leaves on the next generation. The pigs in the study were bred in Brazil and kept according to breeding standards in that country. The sows’ uncomfortable and unstimulating environment brought with it several different types of changes in the epigenome of their offspring. In many parts of the world, sows are kept confined in concrete stalls while they are pregnant. This is a bad environment for the pigs, both in terms ...
Quantum sensor for a future navigation system tested aboard Royal Navy ship
A prototype quantum sensor with potential applications in GPS-free navigation, developed at Imperial College London, has been tested in collaboration with the Royal Navy. The test marks an important step in bringing new quantum technologies out of the lab and into real-world settings. Many navigation systems today rely on global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), such as GPS, which uses signals from satellites orbiting the Earth. However, GPS navigation is not always accessible, obstacles like tall buildings can easily block the satellite signals, and they are also susceptible ...
Hydrogen sulfide in cancer treatment
Hydrogen sulfide is usually a highly toxic gas. However, with careful preparation, it can be used to support photothermal therapy (PTT) in treating cancer, as a team of researchers reporting in the journal Angewandte Chemie has recently discovered. As the team reports, an adjuvant releasing hydrogen sulfide causes tumor cells to lose their natural heat protection and thus to become significantly more sensitive to PTT. Breathing in gaseous hydrogen sulfide usually causes us to suffocate, because the gas suppresses the respiratory chain in the mitochondria, ...
First death in the UK associated with Xylazine
The death of a 43-year-old male is the first in the UK to be associated with Xylazine and marks the entry of the drug into the UK drug supply. New research published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine from King’s College London details the death of the man in May 2022 from the effects of Xylazine alongside heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. Xylazine is a non-opioid sedative, painkiller and muscle relaxant used in veterinary medicine as a tranquiliser for large animals. The drug – known ...
Developing a blueprint for mobile data visualisation
By Jovina Ang SMU Office of Research – It is predicted that by 2025, almost three quarters of the internet users in the world will be mobile-only users. While mobile devices provide ready access to data, there are limitations to how the data can be optimally presented due to the small form factor and limited screen size. For example, it is a lot easier to show 10,000 data points on a desktop compared to a smartphone, which typically has a screen size of 2.82 inches (71.5 mm) ...
Optimising outcomes for older adults
By Alistair Jones SMU Office of Research – The contribution of team members on a research project can get taken for granted, with storied senior leaders gaining most of the attention. A recent exception is Micah Tan, an associate researcher at the Centre for Research on Successful Ageing (ROSA) at Singapore Management University (SMU). For his collaborative work at ROSA, Tan was recognised with an inaugural 2022 Research Staff Excellence Award. “Winning the award has given me a strong sense of fulfilment and has inspired me to want to do more, both for the SMU community but also more generally in terms of ...
Harnessing large vision-language models
By Alistair Jones SMU Office of Research – The terminology of artificial intelligence (AI) and its many acronyms can be confusing for a lay person, particularly as AI develops in sophistication. Among the developments is deep learning – a machine learning technique that teaches computers to learn by example. “Deep learning has brought many major changes to AI, especially in natural language processing (NLP) and computer vision, two sub areas of AI,” says Jing Jiang, a Professor of Computer Science at Singapore Management University (SMU). “In my field, which is NLP, the solution ...
State policies can boost use of anti-opioid medication
States that want to increase access to buprenorphine, a lifesaving medication used to treat opioid use disorder, should consider efforts to enhance professional education and clinician knowledge, according to a new RAND Corporation study. Examining six state-level policies aimed at boosting use of buprenorphine, researchers found that requiring buprenorphine prescribers to receive additional education beyond the initially required instruction, as well as continuing medical education related to substance misuse, were both associated with a significant increase in use of the treatment. The findings are published in the latest edition of the journal JAMA Health Forum. “Many ...
Association of healthy lifestyle factors and obesity-related diseases in adults in the UK
About The Study: In this study of 438,000 UK Biobank participants, adherence to a healthy lifestyle was associated with reduced risk of a wide range of obesity-related diseases, but this association was modest in adults with obesity. The findings suggest that although a healthy lifestyle seems to be beneficial, it does not entirely offset the health risks associated with obesity. Authors: Sebastien Czernichow, M.D., Ph.D., of the Hopital Europeen Georges Pompidou in Paris, is the corresponding author. To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this link https://media.jamanetwork.com/ (doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.14741) Editor’s ...
Effect of free medicine distribution on health care costs in Canada
About The Study: In this secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial of primary care patients in Ontario, Canada, eliminating out-of-pocket medication expenses for patients with cost-related nonadherence in primary care was associated with lower health care spending over three years. These findings suggest that eliminating out-of-pocket medication costs for patients could reduce overall costs of health care. Authors: Nav Persaud, M.D., of the University of Toronto, is the corresponding author. To access ...