Discuss the issues and relevance surrounding email and instant messages as evidence. Discuss Section 802 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Rule 34 of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Discovery as they relate to electronic business records.
Relevance surrounding email and instant messages as evidence can be used to confirm a suspect’s motive. Most email and instant message correspondences are candid and personal although they may contain business-related matters. According to Volonino’s article, “e-evidenceis electronically-stored information on any type of computer device that can be used as evidence in a legal action. […] almost every case includes a ‘smoking e-mail’ component. […] e-mail was the most common type of e-evidence, and was dubbed ‘evidence mail.’ In legal actions where evidence-mail or other e-evidence is used, it is as powerful as a smoking gun or DNA evidence, and is hard to deny or refute” (Volonino, 2003). Although emails and instant messages can be used in court proceedings, they must show relevance and validity to the case as well as being obtained legally with a warrant or discovery request without violating an individual’s rights. In court proceedings, emails and instant messages are subject to discovery. “[…] under discovery rules, litigants can be required to produce e-records by a specific date” (Volonino, 2003). If a discovery request is made, companies are obligated to produce e-records “in readable format” (Volonino, 2003). E-records can include emails and instant messages.
Section 802 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act imposes penalties and “fines of up to $25 million and/or 20 years of imprisonment against” individuals who knowingly “alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or ‘influence’ any government investigation or official proceeding” (Volonino, 2003). The section applies to accountants who conduct audits and
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