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Electronic Evidence

Increasingly, litigation requires that electronic records be provided in a “responsive” form to the courts and/or opposing counsel. What’s often needed is a team of savvy and cost-effective conversion experts to translate the data to a form more amenable to intellectual review. (Not an expensive “forensics” service.) MMC staff are expert in quickly, efficiently rendering data into the most convenient format for intellectual review. Here are just a few examples of our work...

WHITEWATER ("Vacuumed" Memos and Billing Records): Helped client to exercise due diligence by retrieving and converting deleted files from older, now-incompatible system disks which contained information pertinent to federal investigations. Sure enough, several deleted files were discovered, recovered and also converted to a more useful format. (Remember "Castle Grande"?)

PHARMACEUTICAL SUIT (Ancient Mainframe Files): To defend a large pharmaceutical firm against a lawsuit, it was necessary to handle 18-year-old mainframe VSAM data records. Even the gigantic system vendor admitted they could not process the tapes—at any cost. MMC “hacked” the data formats, wrote conversion software, and produced the data in spreadsheet format for the defendant’s counsel.

ANTI-TRUST (CD and DVD Price Fixing): Captured 10 years of mainframe transaction/price data from over 150 tape cartridges. Recovered maximum amount of information from "problem" tapes; generated comprehensive reports. Analyzed and parsed complex record formats into database-importable ASCII text on CD-R.

EMAIL EVIDENCE (Enron-style Fraud/Bankruptcy): Created searchable file indices for 200 gigabytes of server backup tapes. Then reconstructed precise NT and Exchange server environments in order to restore email server message-store. Next, messages and their related attachments were extracted and rendered to PDF for attorney review.

"ROCKET DOCKET" PATENT SUIT (Polymer Formulation Dispute): A large petroleum company needed to access suddenly-vital historical data stored on about 300 reels of backup tape from a "legacy" computer system in a proprietary wordprocessing format. The hundreds of thousands of electronic documents had to be converted to a more current word-processing format. The information needed to be placed on a more convenient medium (CDROM) for review by the court and attorneys for both sides. By conventional conversion methods, the process would take MONTHS, and the court (a famous “Rocket Docket” jurisdiction) would have none of that. This was complicated by the second problem: many of the tapes had been sitting on a shelf for decades, and had physically and magnetically deteriorated. No problem for the Raiders of the Lost Archives.

FOIA CASE (State Department Travel Records): Retained by U.S. Attorney’s Office to decipher undocumented State Department mainframe tapes into understandable format; printed reports for court. At issue: Did a candidate for the Whitehouse travel to Russia as a student to demonstrate against the U.S.?

IRS RECORD RETENTION (Information Preservation and Access): A multinational corporation had accumulated data on about 1,000 reels of computer tape. The format of the data was not very well documented, and some of the tapes had already developed bad spots. The IRS demanded that the firm preserve the data for possible future inspection. The firm’s solution: (a) preserve the data on CD (two copies)—this provides for much easier access as well as better shelf life; (b) the data was preserved on CD in both it’s original structure and as converted to ASCII; (c) a software tool was provided to re-convert any of the original data if ever needed, should it be discovered that the original documentation was incorrect. This covered all foreseeable contingencies.

IRAN/CONTRA (Whitehouse Email Records): Created the systems used at the National Archives to preserve White House tapes, Warren Commission findings and many other federal electronic records for future research and investigation. The development of this APS package resulted in a GSA Technology Excellence Award. Watergate: For nearly 30 years, President Nixon's contact list/appointment calendar files were un-examined due to difficulties with the tape and file formats. Then MMC was called in, and that information is fully available to the public.

DISASTER RECOVERY (Not "Litigation Support", but Support for Litigators): Offices of the NYC Law Department were completely demolished on 9/11/2001. When Senior Counsel for Information Technology Jack Hupper sought help, he immediately contacted MMC whose technicians worked overtime to retrieve hundreds of thousands of files. They duplicated valuable backup tapes from off-site storage locations and transferred files to CDs for each of five hundred attorneys so work could be carried on in the aftershock.
For further reading on Electronic Evidence and related topics, see this section of our PDF Library.

Since 1978, we at Muller Media Conversions have been rescuing and deciphering data from difficult media, obscure formats and hostile environments. May we be of service to you? Please email any questions or comments.

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