Spoliation is defined as the process of altering or destroying evidence, typically for the purpose of hiding something or making it difficult to find.

Spoliation may also refer to:

  • The act of hiding or destroying evidence (not just in the text analytics industry)
  • The alteration or destruction of artifacts
  • The alteration or destruction

The legal definition of spoliation is the “intentional or negligent destruction or material alteration of evidence or the failure to preserve property for another’s use as evidence in pending or reasonably foreseeable litigation.” This can be a criminal act if done knowingly, and it can give rise to civil liability if done negligently.

There are many different types of spoliation, but some common examples include:

  • Deleting files or emails
  • Overwriting data
  • Failing to produce documents that have been requested
  • Destroying physical evidence
  • Altering or fabricating evidence

Spoliation can be difficult to prove, and the consequences can vary depending on the jurisdiction. In some cases, the spoliator may be subject to criminal charges, while in others they may only face civil penalties.

Spoliation is often compared to other similar terms, such as destruction of evidence, tampering with evidence, and obstruction of justice. However, there are some key distinctions between these terms. Spoliation specifically refers to the alteration or destruction of evidence, while obstruction of justice typically refers to interference with the legal process, and tampering with evidence typically refers to altering or tampering with evidence in a way that changes its meaning.

Famous Spoliation cases:

The Enron scandal is a prime example of spoliation of evidence. In this case, employees of the energy company Enron destroyed or hid documents that would have been damning to the company in order to prevent them from being discovered by investigators.

In the O.J. Simpson murder trial, defense lawyers accused the police of spoliation of evidence, claiming that they had failed to properly preserve and collect evidence from the crime scene.

The Spitzer scandal was a political scandal in which New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was accused of spoliation of evidence after it was revealed that he had destroyed records of his conversations with a prostitute.

While spoliation can have serious consequences, it is important to remember that not all instances of evidence destruction are malicious or illegal. Accidental destruction of evidence can sometimes occur, and it is not always possible to prevent it. Therefore, it is important to take steps to preserve evidence as soon as possible after becoming aware of potential litigation.

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