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  • Writer's pictureClayton T. Robertson

A Killer Investigation

By Clayton T. Robertson (Criminal Defense & Civil Rights Attorney)

From a prior post, you can look at a case through the lenses of MITIGATION and VINDICATION. The former is how to humanize your client, while the latter is how to show your client is not guilty of the charges.

The most critical part of vindication is INVESTIGATION. Investigation, likewise, can be split up into several stages or categories. This list is not exhaustive by any means.

DEBRIEF. The "debrief" of the client – who is almost always the case's most important source of information – is vital to learn about the incident and other relevant matters. This process is not from a single meeting at the outset of retention. It includes repeat follow-up communications and questions.

BACKGROUND. This includes researching the backgrounds of witnesses, including the complaining witness and your client. Also, do not forget you are also looking for "mitigation witnesses" that can speak to the client's good character and background so the attorney may present the client in the best possible light to the prosecutor and judge.

ONLINE. Online sources and social media are indispensable. More is shared online about incidents, or reflects on the credibility of witnesses, than at any time in the past. By experienced practitioners, this is called "OSINT." This stands for open-source intelligence.

ASSESSMENT. This includes analyzing with a critical eye what the prosecution received (police reports, videos, pictures, witness statements, etc.) from law enforcement, mindful of the fact that reports written by officers or detectives are referred to as "guilt reports." They are not written to help the accused. And they often do not include key, helpful details.

PI ("PARALLEL INVESTIGATION"). The acronym ("PI") usually means "private investigator." But here it refers to an aggressive parallel investigation of facts by skilled, tenacious, and determined investigators who will leave no stone unturned and who share your attorney's passion for the case. It should be attorney directed. It proactively finds flaws in the "guilt reports." The steps that can be taken have been discussed in other blogs on this site.

The bottom line is you can't teach your attorney to have a killer instinct. They have it or they don't. The same is true with investigators. Find a team that will fight for you.



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