Microfilm has been in use as early as 1839, when John Benjamin Dancer’s novelty texts were printed on the material. Over the years, microfilm has come to play different roles in areas from battlefield communications to record preservation, for which they are known today. Even with the advent of digital technology, microfilm has not lost its value.
One of its uses, however, was questioned in 1973, during a meeting of the International Council on Archives in Brussels. The chairman at the time, Filip Dolgikh, asked whether or not important records stored in microfilm could be used as evidence in a court of law. It wasn’t until 1990 that a global standard on microfilm evidence in legal proceedings was set.
In the U.S., microfilm is considered as admissible evidence under Rule 1003 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.
However, there’s a catch. The provisions under Rule 1002 take precedence over Rule 1003, if the authentic copy of the document preserved in microfilm still exists. If not, then Rule 1003 can be applied.
Myrick v. United States (1964)
Court cases involving microfilm evidence are few and far between. One of several—involving Mike Myrick and Vernon Bergman on counts of bank fraud— occurred in 1964. The checks furnished during the hearing, copies made with a Photostat, were deemed inadmissible since the defense counsel never formally asked for the original copies, which were in microfilm.
Given this and other details, the court found Myrick and Bergman guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The decision was deemed irreversible.
This case also highlights another reason why it is important to ask for necessary original documents via a due process. Quality microfilm scanning services can help in advancing cases and securing desired verdicts, granted that due process is followed.
The professional document scanning services offered by companies such as Spectrum Information Services, owned and managed by Curtis P. Pilon, can help legal teams find and acquire the documents they need, as well as save these from complete loss.
(Article information from Rule 1003. Admissibility of Duplicates, Legal Information Institute)