Organize Your Evidence

Think about the evidence that could apply to your case, and then gather hard copies.  Then organize it.

An Excel spreadsheet is an excellent way to organize your evidence.  I create an Excel file named Evidence-2018-05-11.  (2018-05-11 being the date you create the file.  If you always use yyyy-mm-dd as the date naming convention in your files, it will enable you to find documents chronologically and identify the most recent version.)  [Evidence-Sample-2018-05-11]

Give consistent names to documents.  For example, always write “Letter to _____ about _____.”  “Letter from _________ about ______.” Email, Fax, etc., etc.  be consistent so you can sort your spreadsheet to find all evidence of specific types.

Date each document.  If time of day is important, you should use yyyy-mm-dd-mm-ss.  When I don’t know the exact time, I guess or put 00-00 for minutes and seconds.

Identify the Issue that the evidence applies to.

Insert the filename.  Then you may wish to add a note as to the importance of the document.

To get the filename, you need to put all of your evidence into a folder on your computer.  You will likely have some documents in digital format.  Find those, and put copies in your Evidence Folder.  You will need to rename these files.

Then scan all paper documents, and give each document a proper filename.

Your filenames should all be chronological.  This enables you to sort your Evidence Folder and your spreadsheet to get a history of the documents applicable to your case.  You must be consistent to find things easily.

Your file names should start with yyyy-mm-dd-mm-ss-(what it is, such as letter)-brief description.  So, for example, a letter to Barbara dated April 6, 2013 about settlement would be: “2013-04-06-Letter-to-Barbara-settlement.xls”  If I wanted to have evidence identified by time of day, I would put “2013-04-06-00-00-Letter-to-Barbara-settlement.xls” as I don’t know the time of day she wrote the letter.

Right-click on the filename in Windows Explorer as if you were renaming the file, and simply copy the filename.  Then paste it into the Filename filed on your spreadsheet.

Scan the documents needed, and ensure that all evidence is properly named in your Evidence Folder.  As additional evidence is identified, add each document to your Evidence Folder in the same manner.  When you receive documents from the other side, add that evidence as well.

Thinking long and hard about what evidence may exist is extremely important.  You need to prove your case.  It is also extremely worthwhile to gather evidence that proves the other side lies and cheats, when applicable.

Identify people who may be witnesses to the issues in dispute.  Talk to them to see what they saw or heard.

If the lawsuit is about a contract dispute, the contract itself is a critical piece of evidence.

Communications between you and the other party may be evidence.

Store the original copies of your evidence in a safe place.  And, as discussed above, scan your paper documents so you have digital copies.