Strategies for Audio Files in Electronic Discovery

transcribe audio litigationAudio and video files can provide challenges for attorney review. My first case with audio files was representing a defendant in a criminal matter. The evidence included hundreds of wiretap recordings of audio files. Our review strategy was to provide an MP3 player to the defendant in custody, so that he could listen to the recordings and tell the attorney which calls he thought were important. The attorney’s review plan was to listen to the identified audio files in a review application. At the time, this was the best we could do.

Media files today are far more widespread than wiretap recordings. The fact people can record video and audio on their smartphones means media files are appearing more regularly in personal injury or criminal cases. For example, people in auto accidents often use their phones to document what happened, including the conversation exchange. This media recording would be relevant in any lawsuit and subject to discovery requests.

Everlaw automatically transcribes media files containing speech during processing. Audio and video files have a synced searchable transcript. This can greatly assist and improve an attorney’s ability to review media files in a case, with the added benefit that no separate transcription needs to be outsourced. Moreover, notes can be added to the transcript with embedded time stamps, for either summaries of the text or analysis of the statements.

Case Study: Good Faith Defense to Telemarketing Fraud

Consider how media transcription can be used in a case with allegations of wire fraud, money laundering, and other criminal charges. The defendant had allegedly engaged in a telemarketing scheme to sell bundled insurance products that were misrepresented to be “major medical insurance.” Evidence included over 100,000 .wav recordings of telemarketing calls over a two-year period of time.  

The defense team needed to find telemarketing calls that supported a good faith defense. This required showing calls that were legitimate, without any misrepresentations or omissions. Additionally, if there was a telemarketer who made fraudulent statements on a call, showing that corrective action was taken by management would show there was no intent to defraud.

Searching for phrases from a call script, or other terms of art used by telemarketers, is one potential strategy for finding calls supporting a good faith defense. Another strategy is to search for the alleged misrepresentations. Content hits would be highlighted in the transcript for review. Attorneys can click through the hit highlights and listen to the corresponding audio. Time-stamped notes can be anchored to these sections of audio with a discussion of why the section demonstrates a good faith defense.

Syncing Efficiency

Media files have presented challenges for civil litigators and criminal defense attorneys for years. For cases where there are thousands of audio files, listening to each one individually would be cost prohibitive, let alone practical. Everlaw’s automatic transcription can solve many of these issues for lawyers by allowing them to search and annotate relevant passages from transcripts, without the need for a third-party to transcribe the media.