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State Laws on Optical Imaging


We are only missing 4 states that have not responded and therefore we do not have any information on whether they allow for optical images as evidence in court. I have noticed a number of states are writing regulations to their state agencies on how to use this new technology called document imaging. When we have received this information we posted it in the appropriate state section. The state's still listed with an asterisk *, it means we haven't yet found the laws for optical imaging.

The purpose of this section is to educate the Value Added Reseller, Corporate Information Director, IS Manager, Government Information Officer, and Corporate Executive involved with managing agency or enterprise information, or thinking of installing a document imaging system. The first thing to remember is that in order for you to have a legal database you must SET THE INFORMATION IN TIME. This is why many of the state's laws say the media type MUST be an UNALTERABLE MEDIA.

We do not know if there have been any court cases that have challenged evidence stored in a document imaging system yet, but we are sure it will eventually happen when a company has stored images on magnetic media only and are using that evidence in court. What will happen is this: The opposing attorney will challenge the authenticity of the evidence, and the court will probably throw out the evidence. This will probably cause the company to lose the case -- and maybe millions of dollars. This is why it is important that companies and government agencies learn to how to implement document imaging correctly.

List of States

The following is a list of all the states, and their individual laws concerning optical images stored on digital media. Some states are further ahead than others in changing their laws to reflect technology, but they will all be accepting optical storage very soon. Some states have not modified all of their laws to allow images to be stored optically; we have found many sections allowing for "microfilming" of records and not mentioning any other method. We believe this will be changed or interpreted to include other methods, especially if other sections of state law allow for alternatives. Usually, the state law that defines what is admissible in court is the Rules of Evidence Section of the state code. We list this section first, as these laws are usually the ground rules for the State.

The state laws we list here were initially collected in May and August, 1996. We will update it again four months later. We suggest you check your own states laws from an updated database so you have the current information. You will probably find that this kind of information does not change very much, but we still recommend that you keep up-to-date.

Listing of State Archivists

We have listed all the State Archivists with their E-mail address (if available) and telephone numbers. If you work for a branch of state or local government, then we suggest you contact your State Archivist for a final answer on what laws and regulations you must follow.

State Regulations:

State agencies usually write their own regulations to implement laws that affect their agency. We have included the state regulations for Washington State only because we had a paper copy of them available to us. These regulations are important if you are in charge of the information at a state agency or local government. If we obtain regulations from the other states we will post them here. Some of these regulations may outline what media the data will be placed on and how you must site the data (where it can be put and under what conditions). Usually, the State Archivist or Registrar is empowered with the responsibility of telling state and local government how they should store their records. You must check with the appropriate agency for this information.

The IRS and Tax/Accounting Records:

The IRS has told us that they will accept an optical image as evidence as long as the state law allows for it in the state where it was produced.

Alabama Alaska Arizona
Arkansas California Colorado
Connecticut Delaware Florida
Georgia Hawaii Idaho
Illinois Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana
Maine Maryland Massachusetts
Michigan Minnesota Mississippi
Missouri Montana Nebraska
Nevada *New Hampshire New Jersey
New Mexico New York North Carolina
North Dakota Ohio *Oklahoma
Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island
South Carolina *South Dakota Tennessee
Texas Utah *Vermont
Virginia Washington *West Virginia
Wisconsin *Wyoming

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