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Emoji Evidence Is More Than a Thing

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 27, 2019 6:00 AM

If a court uses a poop emoji, what does that say about the law?

Is it a sign that the law has gone to poop? Or is it a sign that the law is catching up to the times?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an emoji should at least be admissible evidence. Right?

Emoji This

You can't blame the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for making poop part of the record. But you can cite its decision in Emerson v. Dart, which raises another question.

Is emoji evidence more than a thing? Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University Law School, says it has been for years.

"As emoticons and emojis play an increasingly important role in how we communicate with each other, they will increasingly raise legal issues," he says.

In his research, Goldman found at least 80 court opinions with emojis. He says lawyers, judges, and even juries need an emoji dictionary to make sure everybody is on the same page.

Emoji Law?

Elie Mystal, a legal commentator, told CNBC that emojis can be used as evidence. He said prosecutors are using them in criminal cases to prove intent.

However, he said judges are "all over the map" on whether emojis are admissible evidence.

"Courts have had to adjust," he said. "This is a new form of communication."

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