Online Language Translation and Multilingual Social Media as Evidence

Multilingual legal language translation services are vital for attorneys in order to admit foreign language documents into evidence. But can such websites as facebook and MySpace be entered into a case as evidence? In a recent Indiana criminal court case, the Supreme Court ruled that it can be used. In the case, the Defendant was charged with murder but plead the defense of voluntary intoxication and insanity. However, the sole issue on appeal was whether the court improperly admitted into evidence a posting on the defendant’s MySpace page. The Court ruled that the evidence was probative as to the Defendant’s state of mind – which was the main issue of the case.

What makes this decision particularly interesting is the precedent it sets. First it demonstrates the court’s willingness to expand probative value and authenticity to social media outlets. This can have important effects on non-criminal cases too – with claimants posting pictures or information contrary to their personal injury or workers compensation cases, for example. More so, many of these postings could be in a foreign language – more particularly a foreign slang as many users write in abbreviated form. This will add another level to the need for foreign language translation of foreign language evidence.

Up Next: Language Interpreters Service and Antitrust Forum-Shopping: The English Situation