How to Get Phone Records During a Lawsuit

In a recent seminar Mr. Bush presented on the topic of how to obtain phone records, he relied on his own experience and that of others. He Bush explained that one of the most important things he learned from his efforts to subpoena phone records is that having an expert is indispensable.

Mr. Bush describes his experience in his own words:

“My first foray into this area occurred when I was representing a man who was charged with leaving the scene of an accident. An incident had occurred in a neighborhood in Herriman, Utah, when a silver colored pickup truck crashed into a fence on private property. About the same time my client, also driving a silver colored pickup, was forced off the road in a nearby community, Riverton, Utah, by a car driving on the wrong side of the road.

My client, who suffered a concussion in the crash, first reported the accident to police in Riverton, then reported to the hospital where he was admitted. Police visited him in the hospital and inspected his vehicle where they found a piece of wood, which they secured as evidence. My client is a general contractor, so having a piece of wood in his pickup was not unusual.

I wanted to show that my client was not at the accident scene and sought to do so through a subpoena to Sprint for phone records. I received records but was not able to interpret them and so resorted to another approach suggested to me by my focus group: (my daughter Jen, and wife Jan): the police had not proven that my client was the person driving the vehicle at the scene of the accident. Our motion to dismiss on that theory was granted after the prosecutor rested his case.”

In a recent six part mini-series, The Thing About Pam, which aired recently on NBC, Renee Zellweger played the part of Pam Hupp, suspected of murder in a small Missouri town. The prosecution used cell phone records and information from Google to show that Pam had been at the home of the victim shortly before the murder. This evidence refuted Pam’s story about the incident and was helpful to the prosecution.

Experts who have accumulated specialized knowledge on this subject include James Conforti and Benjamin Bierce.

In Salt Lake City, James Conforti found his wife dead from an overdose of drugs and discovered some had been supplied illegally by a local drug dealer. Conforti applied a little known law, the Utah Drug Dealer’s Liability Act, to file suit against the drug dealer and others who assisted him and in the process developed expertise on how to subpoena and interpret phone records. Conforti has prepared a summary which is enclosed with the course materials.

Benjamin Bierce, a former detective in the Digital Forensics Unit of the Indianapolis Police Department, has analyzed over 1200 sets of phone records and testified in 28 trials as an expert witness. Perhaps the most common use of phone records in injury cases is to show that a defendant driver was texting or talking on the phone at the time of the accident, and Mr. Bierce has written a very helpful article entitled “Using Cell Phone Records in Auto Accident Cases.”


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