I’ve investigated and testified in family law and child custody cases in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. I’m sharing what I think it takes to win. No one can predict a trial or case outcome, but there are many steps you need to take to maximize your chances.
The keys to success? Teamwork and hard work. I had a recent case that involved issues of residency. Much of the case concerned whether the husband and wife, our adversaries, had been living together the last few years. Our client, a grandmother, was trying to continue visiting her grandson and being part of his upbringing.
These are the steps and services:
- Do work though an attorney. Attorneys know the courts and the issues. I cannot imagine tackling an important legal matter without a lawyer.
- Commit to a thorough investigation and prepare to spend money. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Quality investigations take time and resources. You will need to outwork your adversary.
- Run The Triangle. It’s a misapplied sports reference–think L.A. Lakers offense under Phil Jackson–but the triangle part is apt. Our triangle was the attorney, the client and the private investigator. We all brought ideas and worked closely, offering feedback and updates on a daily basis. We had great communication. Payment was never an issue and always on time. We committed in every way.
- Surveillance. We varied our times, our vehicles and checked the residence where the husband and wife supposedly lived together. Surveillance can tell you a lot about not only what you do see but about what you don’t see. The subject’s vehicle was almost never where he claimed to live.
- Background check. We knew our subject already had a felony. But I checked the courts again and found information about a recent citation for drug possession. I looked into his supposed service business and found that he did not have an operational web site.
- Databases. The database I use has a license plate reader. It showed that the subject’s car repeatedly was at another residence late at night and early in the morning. Coming up with this other address was crucial because it gave us names of another landlord and more witnesses to interview.
- Locating and interviewing witnesses. I had to find other former landlords of the subject and interview them. One potential witness never responded to attempts to interview her at work. I had to find her home address and serve her nice and early on a Saturday morning.
- Cultivating witnesses. It’s more than just dropping subpoenas on people but knowing what they are going to say or would say in trial and getting them to bring the documents you need.
- Report writing. I can’t just wing it in court. The attorney needed detailed reports and so did I when it came time to testify.
- Credible testimony. I needed to be prepared, articulate and to appear professional.
These are basic services most investigators provide but they still have to be done with care and diligence. It’s about the execution. A client and attorney know they can call me any time morning or night. A quality investigation provides impartial evidence, brings the testimony of neutral witnesses and adds credibility to the client’s case.