App to communicate securely with criminal trial witnesses


Defense attorneys in the New York state courts have been using an app called WitCom to securely communicate with witnesses identified by prosecutors in criminal cases. Both phone calls and text messages can initiated using the app.

Witcom allows the participants' contact information to remain anonymous. A defense attorney will never see a witness's actual phone number. The app allows updates concerning witnesses to sent automatically to a counsel's smartphone. Witcom does not retain messages in its own database - all messages are saved locally on the attorney's mobile devices.

On Friday, a judge in criminal court in Kings County ruled that use of the app does not comply with state law requiring prosecutors to share contact information with defense counsel. An order was issued requiring the phone numbers and email addresses of witness to be disclosed.