How can voicemails be used as evidence in court?

Full Question:

How does a person get a voicemail message that was left on a cell phone, turned into submissable written evidence? Is there a way to legally get the voicemail transcribed into writing?
09/11/2009   |   Category: Civil Actions   |   State: Illinois   |   #18573

Answer:

In recent years, with a huge increase in the use of e-mail and voicemail technology, courts have begun to recognize and admit evidence found in e-mails and voicemails. Digitized voicemail technology is one way of capturing accessible and permanent evidence. For evidentiary purposes, electronic or computer based communication has been accepted by the courts for decades. Voicemails present the problem of keeping it from being "spoiled". In other words, it can be difficult for the parties to a case to preserve the evidence as they are obligated to do. Deleting e-mails or voicemails on purpose would be an example of a deliberate attempt to spoil evidence. Sanctions could be imposed for failing to preserve relevant evidence.

Voicemails present another problem in that it is not as easy to determine when it was received which can be a critical point. It is also difficult to search for evidence as you can with an e-mail system.

Voicemails can be transcribed but sometimes the sounds on the voicemail are just as important as the words spoken. Tone, emphasis and other voice cues cannot be captured in a transcript. So often, listening to voicemails is the best answer.

Technology today can allow lots of memory for audio and data storage. Many vendors now offer archiving technology as well as transcribing technology.

Whether the voicemail is transcribed into a text document or saved as digital audio, it is possible for it to be discoverable in a court proceeding and/or used as evidence.