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  1. #1
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    May 2020
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    Default Using Blockchain Technology for Discovery

    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.

    Thank you,
    Anthony

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    2,213

    Default Re: Using Blockchain Technology for Discovery

    Quote Quoting antStack
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    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.
    This is not a particularly coherent sentence. Also, "pages of evidence" are not sentient and, therefore, cannot "forget" things.


    Quote Quoting antStack
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    Here is a quick explanation of what blockchain is for those of you who don't know
    What you provided was an analogy ("blockchain is like having 100 people witness a verbal contract"). It was not an explanation at all.


    Quote Quoting antStack
    View Post
    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.
    Sure there is. The situation you described is not at all remarkable and is fairly easily handled.


    Quote Quoting antStack
    View Post
    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.
    That doesn't make much of any sense, and it's not clear why a written contract wouldn't be the better option. Also, an inability to change a contract would not be a good thing.

    As for the rest of your post it sounds like you're simply describing a document depository, which is something that has existed for decades.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    2

    Default Re: Using Blockchain Technology for Discovery

    Quote Quoting pg1067
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    This is not a particularly coherent sentence. Also, "pages of evidence" are not sentient and, therefore, cannot "forget" things.


    I wrote it that way on purpose... kind of a joke, it "forget('s) to get into the envelope". Thought that would be clear because it is impossible...

    Something can be analogy and also be an explanation, they are not mutually exclusive.

    I don't know how you prove someone said something without proof... seems like there would be a lot, "i said that", and "no, you didn't"... without proof. But, as I said, I am not a lawyer..

    You're not understanding what I am trying to explain about immutable documents, that's my fault (they can be modified, just not changed - think of it as a revision). This is a subject better talked about in person. I was hoping to get some constructive ideas but I forget the audience I am talking to. Thanks for trying anyway.

    Anthony

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    7,831

    Default Re: Using Blockchain Technology for Discovery

    Quote Quoting antStack
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    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.
    I think that what you describe is not really needed nor is it economical. There are several problems I foresee here. First, not all the items each side has are subject to disclosure in discovery. Any process that requires all the the items to be immediately stored and made accessible to the the other side is therefore a problem. Also, some of that information is confidential and having it potentially available to thousands of others makes that problematic, too. Furthermore, what you describe sounds very much like an electronic records depository that just happens to be on a block chain. Electronic records depository systems have been around for a long time and seem to meet the need for that kind of service very well. Finally, if all the discovery for every lawyer in the state is on every other lawyers computer too you are now talking about lawyers needing to have what may be rather much larger storage systems than they now have. I don't see that the extra cost of all that duplication would be worth the benefits you ascribe to this method of retaining documents.

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