Advancing technologies that are widely used today allow digital evidence reaches the courtroom. Still, if this information cannot be easily accessed, digital forensic analysis is needed. However, forensics methods are not usually accepted without special assessment (Garrie & Morrissy, 2014). Even if they seem to be efficient and appropriate for the case, it is critical to refer to something more than simple assumptions. That is why they are expected to comply with the Daubert Standard and only then utilized in the framework of the case.
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The Daubert Standard is commonly used to evaluate scientific testimony. It allows a trial judge to make a conclusion regarding the reasoning and the forensic methodology that was utilized by an expert. The assessment with the help of this standard can prove or disprove the scientific validity of the information and its reliance on the facts (Morgenstern, 2016).
The evidence that reaches the court and is used for the expert’s testimony should be provided along with a forensic report. Having conclusions made by the third party, it is likely to prove the reliability of the information (Fradella, O’Neill, & Fogarty, 2004). In order to prove the validity of the methodology, the judge should take into consideration five main factors. First of all, it is critical to find out if there is a possibility to test the theory or technique used by the professional.
The methodology is to be supported by peer review and publication that can ensure its effectiveness. Assessment of the obtained information and the potential error rate is also vital, as it allows the judge to be confident in the results. Then, one should find out if the discussed standards are in exercise. They may be used to control the operation or might be ignored. Finally, it is significant to check how the methodology is treated by the relevant scientific community. In order to be valid, it is to be widely accepted and utilized (The Daubert decision, 2016).
In the case study that deals with child pornography, the evidence was not presented in a context, which prevented its understanding. Still, the fact that the report had no timeline and was not explained decently is crucial, as it affected the outcome of the trial. The prosecution did not pay enough attention to the fact that the cross-examination was rather weak. As a result, the defendant was charged with the possession of child pornography with intent even though the intent was not proved.
In other words, there was a possibility that the case was not so critical, and the defendant was not guilty. Still, the judge allowed to make a final decision even without considering the role of people who were at the defendant’s house (Boddington, 2012).
As it turned out, the problem, in this case, is that the appropriateness of the evidence was not proved. Of course, it cannot be denied that the forensics examiners mentioned the criteria for evidence selection. Still, they failed to provide an explanation for the exhibition in the framework of relevance and significance to the particular case. They should have possessed the experience and expertise in order to fill the occurred gap. In this way, the evidence reliability, which determines if they can be used during the trial, can be questioned.
The judge cannot be sure that they are accurate, consistent, and authentic, so one cannot allow the jury to make the final decision. Thus, it can be concluded that if the judge paid the required attention to the evidence validity, the situation could have altered. The prosecutor could have assessed the basis for the expert’s testimony and considered not to take the defendant to the court.
Taking everything mentioned into consideration, it can be claimed that a forensic report should have been evaluated. The assessment of the forensic methodology used in the case according to the Daubert Standard should have proved its validity in several steps. When the procedure follows the guideline, first of all, the attention is paid to the way in which the digital evidence was gathered. The reviewer mentions whether the data was received directly from a hard drive or from its duplicate bit-by-bit image.
The last option is more reliable because it is less vulnerable to errors due to the limited amount of moving parts. The format of the imaged data is also important. E01format is generally accepted, and it can be created with the help of different software. The next step in the report assessment deals with the evaluation of the way the expert worked. A digital forensic report is to reveal the procedure in detail for the representative of the third party to make decent conclusions. It also presupposes that all the forensic images should be copied without any complications. If they cannot be replicated, the court can hardly count on the report because the efficiency of its methodology is not proved.
Those reports that lack details and are not reproducible are considered only in extraordinary situations. Then, a digital forensic report should be discussed regarding its structure. It should consist of four main parts that reveal the summary of the information, tools used during the investigation, evidence item, and recommendations. Superfluous data should be omitted to avoid complications. It is also critical to remember that the investigation can be maintained only in the areas related to responsive evidence.
The adaptation of the report in favor of some outcome is not admissible and is often considered to be a fraud. Finally, the tools used by the examiner should be pointed out as well as one’s assumptions. As the range of tools is rather extended, it is important to allow the reviewer to understand why some of them were selected. This is vital for the case because the conclusions can be affected (Application of Daubert, 2002).
In this way, the Daubert Standard allows the court to see if the expert’s testimony reveals scientific knowledge that concerns the case and will be useful in understanding the issue. When the validity and relevance of the methodology or reasoning are proved, the evidence can be brought to the court and applied to the case. Of course, judges had a right to exclude the testimony they found indecent for the trial even before the Standard started to be widely used.
Still, then they usually allowed voicing it. Then the judges asked the jury not to utilize the received information when making a decision, but that demand could not be totally followed. It should be understood that if the particular information was heard even once, it already affected the listeners. Even if they try not to refer to it, some biases cannot be avoided. Thus, the evaluation of the methodology used by the expert and the report one made regarding the evidence should be maintained according to the Daubert Standard.
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Application of Daubert in environmental criminal and civil cases. (2002). Web.
Boddington, R. (2012). A case study of the challenges of cyber forensics analysis of digital evidence in a child pornography trial. Web.
Fradella, H., O’Neill, l., & Fogarty, A. (2004). The impact of Daubert on forensic science. Pepperdine Law Review, 31(2), 323-362.
Garrie, D., & Morrissy, D. (2014). Digital forensic evidence in the courtroom: Understanding content and quality. Northwestern Journal of Technology And Intellectual Property, 12(2), 121-128.
Morgenstern, M. (2016). Daubert v. Frye. Web.
The Daubert decision. (2016). Web.