E-Discovery: Voicemail Discovery May No Longer Constitute an Unreasonable Burden for Defendants and Plaintiffs

By Richard Quattrocchi

Is voicemail discoverable under e-discovery rules for business? Seems like an easy question. I ran a Google Search and found articles that indicated yes and others that said no, still others that indicated maybe. Turns out it is not such a black and white issue after all.

After consulting with our Corporate Attorney, the Gartner group and spending hours online, I came to the conclusion that yes, voicemail is discoverable and that under certain circumstances companies can reasonably argue that production of voicemail recordings for a civil procedure encumbers businesses with an undue burden so they don’t have to produce it. The cost to retrieve and review voicemail, they argue, is labor intensive and therefore excessive. However, because of inexpensive speech to text transcription technology that can now convert hard to process audio evidence into easy to process text, the days of claiming undue burden may be ending.

New advances in speech to text conversion now make voice message retrieval and review just as easy as email. Voice messages stored in a voicemail archive (like Message Archive from Mutare Software) can be selected by criteria such as mailbox number, date range, caller ID etc., and then run through a speech to text service such as Mutare’s giSTT Audio.

giSTT Audio produces a reasonably accurate transcript of each voice message that can now be searched for relevant metadata, allowing attorneys to quickly determine if a particular voice message is relevant for discovery. This technology has been available for three years, and as wise plaintiffs become aware of the technology, requests for voicemail evidence may no longer be unreasonable. And, as more judges become aware of the technology, decisions may start forcing companies to not only archive voicemail but also use speech to text services to convert the messages for evidence requests.

Unified communications technology is rapidly changing and helping business become more competitive in an expanding global economy. At the same time, the tools that make collaboration and business process enhancement easier are also making e-discovery easier. Companies that unify their messaging with converted speech to text to boost employee productivity will find themselves in a better position to save money down the road with e-discovery matters. For more information visit www.mutare.com.

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About rquattrocchi

Rich Quattrocchi is an industry thought leader with many years of senior level management experience in the medical and information technology sectors. He currently leads the business development efforts for Mutare, an independent software developer specializing in unified messaging, HIPPAA compliant messaging, secure contact center chat and computer telephony solutions. He is the founder and President of the Bridge Group Online, a consulting practice that specializes in digital marketing. He is also the founder and former President of Home Access Health Corporation an at-home medical testing company. Mr. Quattrocchi holds six patents covering interactive voice response, computer telephony integration, closed loop quality control and medical devices for confidential detection and reporting of complex human maladies.
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