Here are 10 ways that an attorney can use a professional private investigator: (1) Locate People It may be a witness or an heir. Perhaps it’s a former employee who can shed light on corporate misconduct. Or maybe you need to locate a witness in possession of the proverbial “smoking gun.” Whether you would like to interview, serve, or investigate someone, an investigator can help you to identify and locate the individual.
The Trial Phase Once you take a complicated criminal case, call your professional investigator as soon as practicable. A professional investigator will, upon retention, begin working on a list of potential witnesses. Brief your investigator on as many details of the case as possible. Provide your investigator with a full case file: police reports, statements, crime scene photos, sketches, etc. Your investigator is performing work product, which should (in most cases and in most states) be protected.
Appeal Phase Let’s say that your client has been found guilty of first-degree murder and received the death penalty. The crime happened in 1992. Your firm, located in New York, took on the habeas case pro bono. The crime occurred in Memphis. Witnesses have moved. People have forgotten, or have claimed forgetfulness. Time, as they say, marched on. Your resources are tight, and the stakes are extremely high. Please, I beg you, hire a private investigator.
Reviewing the Crime Scene—Picking Apart the Prosecution’s WorkProfessional investigators are fact checkers, not advocates; but shoddy work or unscrupulous work by the prosecution should be exploited. A professional investigator with proficiency in police procedures can help you find flaws in work conducted by the police and the prosecution.
Is a Private Investigator an Asset to the Legal Team? As an investigator, I think it is important for attorneys to consider if they are using all the resources they have to win their case(s). I recently spoke to a group of trial attorneys about the importance of hiring a private investigator. The most common question trial attorneys ask when determining the importance of hiring a Private Investigatro is, “Can’t my staff do the investigation in-house?”