The Legal Aid Society’s Digital Forensics Unit and the obstacles public defenders across the country face on cases involving technology, especially when law enforcement has access to forensic technology that makes digital investigations easier, was recently the subject of a feature in The New York Times.
The Digital Forensics Unit assists attorneys in all five boroughs in interpreting and using evidence from personal computers, mobile devices, and social media accounts. Additionally, analysts interpret cell phone location data, edit and enhance video recordings, and consult on other areas of emerging technology. The Unit provides trial preparation and litigation support to attorneys including providing expert testimony, preserving electronic evidence, preparing cross-examinations, and drafting motions and subpoenas related to technology. Recent work by the DFU includes combatting the use of facial recognition, ShotSpotter evidence, and motions to controvert search warrants for cell phones and social media accounts.
“Americans spend so much more time on their phones now. And the amount of information and value of digital information has dramatically increased as a result. Law enforcement is onto that. But so are we. Our goal is to push back against law enforcement’s technological advantage,” said Jerome Greco, Supervising Attorney of the Digital Forensics Unit.
LAS recently announced the opening of an additional Bronx Digital Forensics Lab. With this investment, DFU will be better positioned to provide assistance on individual cases, spearhead impact litigation, and engage in policy advocacy. Such advocacy remains a top priority given the increased use by law enforcement of highly intrusive surveillance technologies that are often insufficiently tested and of dubious reliability. The Legal Aid Society is the only public defender organization in the nation to have such a unit of this size.
Learn more about the work of the DFU in our staff profile of Digital Forensics Analyst Lisa Brown.
Last Updated: 22 November 2019
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