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An excerpt from The Professional Investigator:
2002 Kitty Hailey

Concepts and Commentary
On Evidence

"Just because the evidence is not apparent does not mean there is apparently no evidence." Carl Sagan

I think it's called the "Cocktail Party Phenomenon" or something like that. You know how you can be at a crowded reception where people are splintered off into groups of two or three or four. The dine of the conversation is so cacophonous that you can hardly hear yourself as you try desperately to be cordial and balance the miniature egg roll at the same time. The sound of tinkling glass, clattering silver and bursts of phony laughter make you wonder what you're doing in this room anyway. Then all of a sudden your ear picks out the sound of two voices. They aren't anywhere near you. They're across the room, having some intense conversation which you can hear clearly in spite of all the other background sounds.

"I've got to come up with something for this client. I mean I did surveillance, took statements, checked his entire background and I've come up with nothing. I mean, noting. Zip, zilch, zero…nothing. The client's going to be furious. I might lose this lawyer if I don't get something soon."

They were investigators talking. It was at one of the numerous seminars that I've been to in the past couple of months. I tuned out the rest of the conversation. You can do that, too. You can sometimes be selective about what you hear and what you don't hear. I tuned it out because it got me thinking. Sometimes we do everything possible. Often our feelings of responsibility to find information, or guilt at not finding evidence, keeps us dogging away at a case long after the dollars are gone. We've all been there.

At times it's the client who has put so much pressure on us. It might be an attorney who wants material to use in court. I remember one particular attorney who chastised me in front of her client for not finding that the husband was a poor father and inappropriate caregiver to the infant child. But I hadn't found anything detrimental about the guy. In fact, I found him to be a loving, attentive father who gave up his own social life to spend quality time with his son. The attorney, however, rudely demanded that I go back out and find "something, anything, some dirt" that she could use in court because "her clients were never wrong!"

She practically demanded that I find something or fabricate it. Well, guess what? It doesn't work that way. It's one thing to do a thorough job. It's another to perjure yourself. I selected to handle it my way. I fired the attorney. I had already given her information that was vital to her trial. Now she knew where not to go, what not to discuss and what information was not going to surface. She was an informed and armed as she was going to get in this situation. I know. Because I did the work, rummaged through the haystack and looked at each piece of straw. No needles there.

Carl Sagan's words are so very true. "Just because the evidence is not…"

A good investigator goes beyond the obvious and seeks to put the puzzle pieces together in a way which will unearth the truth. But, occasionally the truth is not what we had hoped to find. Sometimes out hypothesis is all wrong. Every accused individual we represent is not innocent. Every personal injury case was not caused by someone else's negligence. Every insurance case is not a fraud. A really good attorney will thank you for providing information prior to court that will not be thrown like a hand grenade and catch the lawyer unprepared. The very best we can promise is that there will be no surprises, because we have done our best.

"Just because the evidence is not apparent does not mean there is apparently no evidence, but even then, sometimes there isn't." Kitty Hailey

(See The Professional Investigator for remainder of section. Order here)

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