How to authenticate Internet evidence

internetpicTo oppose a summary judgment motion in a mortgage servicing case, Plaintiffs sought to introduce two documents: (1) “a printoff from the HOPE Loan Portal, an online log maintained by Impact [a consultant hired by Plainitffs] to catalogue any updates with the [Plaintiffs’] loan-modification application,” and (2)  a handwritten call log seemingly created by Impact employees as they contacted BOA for updates by telephone. The Fifth Circuit affirmed their exclusion in Thompson v. Bank of America, N.A., No. 14-10560 (April 21, 2015).

Noting that “[i]n the case of an exhibit purported to represent an electronic source, such as a website or chat logs, testimony by a  witness with direct knowledge of the source, stating that the exhibit fairly and fully reproduces it, may be enough to authenticate,” the Court observed: “At no point does [Plaintiffs’] affidavit say that they have personal knowledge of the online log or that it represents an unaltered version of the website. . . . That is likely because, by all indications, those logs were created and maintained by Impact, not the Thompsons. Nor do the logs have characteristics that would authenticate them from their own appearance under Rule 901(b)(4).”   The opinion summarizes some other federal authority about the authentication of evidence obtained from the Internet.

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