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The Lawyers' Secret Divorce Weapon: Automated Toll-Paying Services

These days, divorce lawyers don't necessarily need a private investigator to figure out whether their client's soon-to-be-ex-spouse was really spending those late nights at the office, as claimed. Instead, as this interesting article, Lawyers dig into FasTrak data, reports (6/5/07), divorce attorneys can turn to automated toll-paying services such as FasTrak (used in California's Bay Area) to track a spouse's whereabouts. From the article:

As the number of cash-free bridge commuters rises, so do the ranks of divorce lawyers and other civil attorneys who have subpoenaed, and received, personal driving records from the agency that oversees the regional e-toll system.  Subpoenas that MediaNews obtained under the state Public Records Act turned up several cases over the last two years in which the Metropolitan Transportation Commission released FasTrak subscriber records in civil disputes. The records include logs of the date, exact time and bridge where a car using FasTrak rolls through a toll plaza at any of the eight Bay Area spans.

To date, there have only been 20 subpoenas for FasTrak data. But that may change as FasTrak grows in popularity: Already, the number of users has increased by 65 percent over a year ago. 

And not all judges will allow lawyers to access FasTrak data. In one case described in the article, a 70-year-old man sued a business that fired him after 30 years. To refute the plaintiff's claims that he worked hard, the company attempted to obtain FasTrak records, presumably to show that he arrived late or left early. But the judge denied the request.

As for divorce lawyers who hope to make use of this data, watch out, because it's a double-edged sword: It won't be long before clients figure out that they can challenge your billing records by showing that you were cruising over the Bay Bridge at the same time that you claimed to be drafting a brief.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 5, 2007 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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