Discussion of Social Media Evidence With Hon. Paul W. Grimm

This morning, the Negligence, Insurance and Workers’ Compensation section of the Baltimore County Bar Association sponsored a talk presented by U.S. District Court Judge Paul W. Grimm on the requirements for introduction at trial of social media and other “internet” digital evidence. Fizer Maloon attended with about 15 other attorneys at this 8:00 a.m. assembly in the Grand Jury Room on the first floor of the Baltimore County Circuit Court.

In addition to discussing his own opinion on the issue in Lorraine v. Markel American Insurance Co., 241 F.R.D. 534 (D.Md. 2007), Judge Grimm also commented upon the currently definitive opinion in Maryland on the subject, Griffin v. State, 419 Md. 343, 19 A.3d 415 (2011). Available at the presentation was a four-page “checklist” prepared by Judge Grimm and a Delaware attorney regarding the potential authentication methods that can be used to introduce such evidence, as well as the relevant Federal Rules of Evidence. Maryland for the most part, of course, mirrors the Federal Rules, and placing the “5-” Maryland Rule designation before the number. Also available at the presentation was Judge Grimm’s article on Authentication of Social Media Evidence, published in the American Journal of Trial Advocacy [Vol.36:433]. Obviously, neither the internet generally, nor the social media sites specifically, on which we all are so fond of posting for all to see is going away, and I would exhort any practicing trial lawyer who wants to stay at least even with “the curve” to keep current with this issue. Judge Grimm was, as always, both informative and entertaining. His credentials on this particular issue are notable. In 2009, the Chief Justice appointed Judge Grimm to serve as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. He also chairs the Advisory Committee’s Discovery Subcommittee, and will be a presenter at the Advisory Committee’s Symposium on the Challenges of Electronic Evidence and the Federal Rules, scheduled on October 11, 2013 at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland.