HOW CELL PHONE EVIDENCE IS USED IN FAMILY LAW CASES

Ocean County Family Part Judge Lawrence Jones' opinion in a recent final restraining order hearing shows again why hiring an attorney for your family law matter will provide the best possible result. In this case, titled E.C. v R.H., a woman was seeking a final restraining order against someone with whom she had previously been in a romantic relationship. In an effort to show the judge the full extent of the harassment to which the plaintiff had been subjected, the woman, representing herself, had brought her cell phone in to use as evidence. She wished to share with the court the abusive and profane text messages, voicemails, and social media posts which she had received from the defendant. However, she had not created a hard copy of those messages, or transferred them to a storage disc or device that could be shared with the court and printed out or projected. While Judge Lawrence expressed his understanding of why the woman would want to present this evidence to the court, and the necessity of that evidence, he also stated the difficulty of three parties-the judge, plaintiff, and defendant-examining evidence stored on a cell phone in the court room. The judge shared that the difficulty is compounded where the plaintiff is seeking a restraining order based on violent threats from the defendant, and cannot be physically close to the defendant in court. Judge Lawrence ordered that, going forward, text messages or emails stored on a cell phone or pulled from social media accounts must be printed out on numbered pages if a plaintiff wishes to use them as evidence in court. Any audio or video messages must be saved to CD or DVD, so that they can be played in the courtroom. 

This case provides another excellent example of why it is best to hire an attorney for your family law case. When you're representing yourself, you don't have time to compose a case, learn how to draft effective motions, or gather and organize evidence. Hiring an attorney will ensure that the best possible evidence is preserved and then effectively presented to the court. The judge can't order that a dangerous person be prevented from continuing to threaten and harass you without evidence of the harassment. If text or voicemail messages were accidentally deleted, or posts to your social media accounts erased before they could be presented to the judge, your safety and the safety of family members could be jeopardized. A lawyer will also be prepared to present evidence of the harassment in a manner best designed for an overburdened judge to quickly review and evaluate. Invest in an attorney to handle your restraining order, divorce, or custody case who will provide peace of mind and ensure the best possible result for you and your loved ones.

For any legal disputes in New Jersey regarding domestic violence or other family legal issues, contact the experienced Morristown family law firm Smith & Doran for a consultation on your claims, at 973-292-0016.

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