Parts of this article were originally published as the author’s articles “Authentication of Cell Phone Text Messages,” which appeared in the January 2016 issue of Circuits, the Journal of the Computer & Technology Section of the State Bar of Texas, at 8-12; and “Authenticating: Can Cellphone Text Messages Stand Up in Court?” which appeared in the April 2016 (79:4) issue of Texas Bar Journal, at 278. Reprinted with permission.
Cell phone text messages and social media posts play an increasingly important role in criminal and family law litigation. For example, a criminal might text before committing a misdeed, and a spouse might file for divorce after discovering the other spouse’s posts on a dating website. Parties seeking to admit these electronic documents at trial face two authentication challenges. They must prove that the adduced documents are accurate copies of the originals and also show that the persons to whom they seek to ascribe the documents actually created them.1