I am not a lawyer but have been thinking that blockchain would be a great technology to help with discovery. I would like your opinion please.
It seems that discovery coming up "missing" or a seemingly innocuous page of evidence happens to forget to get into the envelope with the rest of the discovery. Sometimes these "mistakes" can have devastating effects upon the verdict of a trial... sometimes landing people on death row. I would like to think that this is always a mistake, but there may be a way to ensure that this never happens again.
Here is a quick explanation of what blockchain is for those of you who don't know:
IT IS NOT BITCOIN, bitcoin uses blockchain technology but it IS NOT the blockchain.
imaging you had a verbal contract with someone to sell you 10 widgets for 10 dollars. But, when you sent your 10 dollars, you only got 5 widgets. You go to court, but without other evidence, It is just your word against his - there is really no way to prove who is telling the truth.
Now imagine that 100 people witnessed the verbal contract. when you go to court, you have 100 witnesses that say that you were suppose to get 10 widgets. Essentially this is what blockchain accomplishes. You have copies of your original agreement or contract or bank balance, or whatever is needed to prove who is correct. Essentially you take any trust out of the situation. Bitcoin has close to 10,000 people (nodes) that record every transaction. The blockchain is also immutable - transactions can never be changed or deleted, only added.
Now image if every piece of evidence or record, from the initial crime scene photos to the last witness interview, is stored on a blockchain as it happens. Discovery would never get lost or misplaced. Every lawyer that passed the bar exam would be given the ability to create a node (hold a copy of the blockchain). Obviously, all of the information on the block chain would be encrypted so having a copy would only be useful in verifying the information - you couldn't look at it unless you were given access... This could be implemented per state.
When it is time to release discovery to the other side, the prosecutors office only has to give the defense team a key to access the discovery, It will already be on their computer. the same would happen in reverse - the defense team would give the prosecutors a key for access to defense teams discovery.
This would make it impossible for pictures or files to disappear and each lawyer on each side could be completely confident that they have all of the discovery. Everything is immutable so there is no way to tamper with it...
Please let me know what you think and if you have any questions --- I want to make sure that I explained everything properly. Please especially tell me if you think it is a bad idea and why. I want as many holes put through my idea as possible.