Computer engineers host workshop for state judges

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering recently hosted a two-day "Computer Skills for Judges Workshop" for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Judicial Center.

The workshop was delivered by John Domico, assistant director of information technology, and Mark Tamminga, a senior systems administrator. The 25 Pennsylvania judges in attendance learned how electronic information complicates evidence discovery and admissibility.

"We used practical hands-on demonstrations to gain understanding of metadata, which prompted an engaging discussion as to whether unintentional information garnered from metadata should be admissible as evidence," Domico said. "If a Microsoft Word document is submitted as evidence, should the evidence be limited to the visible page, or should it include the metadata payload as well?"

Additional dialog centered on how the persistence of information presents challenges to the discovery process. "Often, information deleted by users is not truly erased. Much deleted information remains discoverable. However, such discovery requires expertise and time that may not be at the court's disposal," Domico said.

The judges weren't the only participants to gain new understanding from the workshop. "The workshop was a two-way street. Judges shared valuable insight as to how they might decide on discovery of digital evidence and determine its admissibility. These topics are of great interest to the many administration of justice majors enrolled in computer science and engineering's service-level courses. I am hopeful that we'll be able to have some of the judges appear as guest lecturers," Domico said.

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Last Updated November 02, 2010