The adage “a great report can save a horrible investigation, while a horrible report can ruin even the best of investigations” isn’t the report’s only purpose. While a detailed, yet concise story of what was observed during three days of insurance surveillance is essential, of equal importance is properly detailing the steps and results of investigative efforts for criminal cases. In fact, your client facing X number of years, and even you as his attorney, may find it to be more important. A properly written report lends credibility to both the investigator and the investigation.
For our first example, if you as the client were to receive a report that read: “The prosecution’s evidence is completely inadmissible. Furthermore, Mr. Blue is not guilty of the crime accused, based on statements made by his wife and father-in-law. The victim is completely unreliable, will lose all composure on the stand and can in no way harm Mr. Blue,” it may sound great to your client, but in reality, the report statement did nothing more than pander to your situation and was an obvious position taken by an amateur. However, if your report read: “At 5:25 p.m. on Friday, November 13, 2023, an interview of Miss Smith, the complainant, was conducted. When the investigator inquired about what occurred, Miss Smith stated XYZ, which contradicted the complainant’s original statement to responding police officers. In addition to the conflicting statements, and prior to the interview of the complainant, the investigator conducted a background check on the complainant and discovered multiple felony convictions, including, etc.,” now you have a clear picture of the investigative findings. You know the complainant (not victim, as we are on the defense) made contradictory statements. You’re also made aware of information in the complainant’s background, which may bring their credibility into question.
Now let’s look at examples where the police confiscated the accused’s phone. If the investigative report read, “we need to bring in a computer forensics specialist to check Mr. Blue’s phone immediately,” that may sound nice, but it doesn’t detail why. It offers no explanation for the courts in the event the case is court appointed, or to the accused/family of the accused in the event the case is retained. We all know money doesn’t grow on trees, retained clients rarely have unlimited funds, and most boards of District Court Judges regulate how much of any bill one can rack up, if at all, and expect compensation. However, if your report reads: “Upon review of the Gray Key and Cellebrite records provided in the discovery, the investigator was left with the opinion a computer forensics specialist should be hired/appointed to assist. This was due to the following findings: while reviewing the various folders contained in the discovery copy of the cell phone image obtained by law enforcement, the investigator discovered the access log for the phone. In that log, the investigator discovered an entry for access which was after the accused was transferred to Not Guilty County Detention Center, but two days prior to Judge Acquittal signing the warrant for accessing the phone,” you know your investigator is recommending a computer forensics specialist because he found something which may point to an unlawful search, requiring a specialist to confirm and possibly validate through testimony. If the specialist can confirm the investigator’s findings, you may now have a valid suppression argument. This is a clear example of the report providing precisely the details you need from your investigator, allowing you to make a sound recommendation to your client for his defense.
The next time you need a defense investigation, call the company that will do the job right and provide you with the investigation’s exact details through a properly written report. Call Preferred Intelligence at 214-785-4504.