Articles Posted in Maryland Court of Appeals

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Petitioner appealed convictions related to a shooting death where he contended that the trial judge abused his discretion in admitting several printed pages from petitioner's girlfriend's MySpace profile. The state did not question the girlfriend about the pages allegedly printed from her MySpace account but, instead, attempted to authenticate the pages as belonging to her through testimony of the lead investigator in the case. At issue was whether the trial judge abused his discretion in admitting the MySpace evidence and whether electronically stored information printed from a social networking website could be properly authenticated. The court held that the trial judge abused his discretion in admitting the MySpace evidence where the picture of the girlfriend, coupled with her birth date and location, were not sufficient "distinctive characteristics" on a MySpace profile to authenticate its printout given the prospect that someone other than she could have created the site and posted the comment at issue. The court also held that possible avenues to properly authenticate a profile or posting printed from a social networking site might include asking the purported creator if she indeed created the profile and if she added the posting in question, searching the computer of the person who allegedly created the profile and examine the computer's internet history and hard drive, and obtaining information directly from the social networking site.