Hacking a Spouse’s Email Can Result in Legal Sanctions as This Case Shows

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Updated 12/1/20

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How far can you go to settle a divorce case — which, on average, can take up to a year to settle? As Joel B. Eisenstein of Lincoln County found out, hacking emails crosses the line in court.

The lawyer and part-time prosecutor is being accused of hacking emails in a divorce case he represented, lying to the judging about it, and then threatening another attorney. So what happened?

Gregory J. Koch was seeking to divorce his wife. During this time he was able to access his wife’s email through “hacking”; in this case, guessing her password. He used this information to access conversation between her and her attorney, as well as download a private payroll document. Eisenstein, as his attorney, should have informed the opposing counsel of this information, and as divorce advice advised his client not to obtain hacked information; instead he used it to prepare for the settlement conference.

Stephanie L. Jones, the opposing counsel, discovered the oversight on the second day of the trial, and immediately reported it to Associate Circuit Judge John Essner. Eisenstein then claimed, in front of Essner, that he had never seen the information. This claim was quickly invalidated by Koch, who admitted under oath to having given to documents to Eisenstein after accessing them.

Eisenstein, for his part, claims that he never closely examined either the payroll document or the list of questions. However, the Aug. 26 disciplinary hearing panel said that he had, indeed, used illegally obtained evidence while also “unlawfully concealing” the questions. The panel recommended an indefinite suspension of his law license, which Eisenstein and his lawyer have rejected.

Email: Divorce Advice: Don’t Hack

The lesson to be learned from this case: while email and text messages can often seem like a more gray area of the law, both parties in a divorce case need to proceed legally when it comes to obtaining this information. During discovery, email evidence can be produced by request, or in other cases, a request can be made to inspect an entire computer. Attorneys can also, in certain situations, subpoena cell phone providers if there are text messages involved that can help to prove the case.

You are allowed to enter another party’s email as evidence if you can prove that you had open access to a shared computer (and email). Both Federal and State laws are clear on the event of unlawful interception; you cannot access someone’s computer or email without their permission and use those communications as evidence in a divorce case, and divorce lawyers are not allowed to overlook illegally obtained evidence. Not only can this lead to exclusion of the evidence, but it can also lead to legal sanctions (as Eisenstein found out).

The divorce rate for a first marriage is about 41% and 60% for a second marriage, meaning that many people are going through this. The divorce process doesn’t need to be complicated. Your best divorce advice is to follow the letter of the law, along with your family law attorney’s advice.

Joel Eisenstein is a criminal defense attorney at St. Charles, Missouri. His law firm has represented different clients in various cases, including family law, criminal defenses, juvenile law, child custody, and car accidents.

Experience in law is necessary when representing an individual. Having been licensed for over 40 years, Joel Eisenstein is a good choice when in an attorney quick search from affordable legal websites. He will always take his time to explain to you what your case needs and an understanding of how much it will cost you. His firm offers affordable legal advice with all types of attorneys available.

While representing a client on divorce legal services in 2016, Joel was suspended by a state licensing authority to use information that his client illegally attained from the opposing side. ThatThat act attracted a punishment from the legal firm about six months without practicing law, having his license reinstated. However, it does not take away his many years of experience, knowledge of the law, and the many wins he has gotten over time.

Going by the client’s reviews, he has been helpful in many cases and has represented them to victory in their cases. He is professional and thorough in his work, as many clients say.


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