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Notice To Preserve Evidence: EFFECTIVE Evidence Gathering

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First, I should preface this post. This blog post is in the legal category of my blog, but I am NOT an attorney. Always follow the discretion of your attorney over what I say and/or write. Your attorney will understand things about your case that nobody else will, like the nuances of your case, the general attitudes that key people in your case have, and such. So, always listen to your attorney in your case, over anyone else.

Now, on to the topic of this blog post. This blog post is about the Notice To Preserve Evidence Letter, sometimes referred to as the Litigation Hold Letter. This has to be one of the most effective tools for gathering evidence that I have ever used, but yet one of the most overlooked tools that I know of. The Notice To Preserve Evidence Letter is very powerful, if worded correctly and explained correctly to the person it is being served to.

I have served these Notice To Preserve Evidence Letters for over 10 years, and although attorney’s seem to overlook using them, or at least seem to rarely use them, we have gotten evidence that we would not have gotten without using them. In one case we got video evidence that actually exonerated a client on drug trafficking charges, and in another case we got video evidence that assisted a client in securing a settlement from city government. 

Below is a photo of an old Notice To Preserve Evidence Letter that RMRI, LLC. used to get video evidence that resulted in our client obtaining a settlement from the city of Columbia, MO.

The benefit to the Notice To Preserve Evidence Letter is that it puts a burden on the person that it is being served to, that often times influences that person to turn over the requested evidence when they are being served rather than have to try to keep up with it and risk losing it. In the case mentioned in the previous paragraph, where our client was exonerated from drug trafficking charges, RMRI, LLC. served a Notice To Preserve Evidence on a local hotel for video footage in the time frame that the arrest and search of our client occurred, and we found evidence that the items that were found in the search did not belong to our client, nor did he have any knowledge that they were there. The evidence was compelling enough that the prosecution dropped all charges against our client. The hotel did not want to have to pull the video, store it, and be responsible for it, so the management decided to allow us to pull the video and process it the same day we served the the hotel with the Notice To Preserve Evidence Letter. We actually got key video evidence in this case before the local law enforcement agency that investigated this case did. In the other aforementioned case where our client got a settlement from the city, we also got that video evidence before local law enforcement did, the Notice To Preserve Evidence Letter in that case is pictured above.

Typically, Notice To Preserve Evidence or Litigation Hold Letters are used in civil cases, however I know of no case law, court rule, or procedure which bars them from being used in a criminal case. 

The Notice To Preserve Evidence Letter should be crafted by the Private Investigator in these criminal cases, since the Private Investigator should know what specific evidence to target, approved by the attorney, and then served by the Private Investigator. Serving the Notice To Preserve Evidence Letter is no different than process service, as a matter of fact it is process service. After the Notice To Preserve Evidence is served, the signatures are taken and the time and date are filled out, a copy of it should be put in the court docket. This allows the court to see that the party that was in possession of said evidence was put on notice to preserve that evidence in a legal matter. 

The Notice To Preserve Evidence Letter has been one of the most powerful tools that I have ever used in gathering evidence in criminal and civil cases.

RMRI, LLC. hopes to see this tool more widely used by attorney’s and private investigators to gather key evidence that may exonerate their clients in criminal cases or win judgments in civil cases.

Rick Gurley of RMRI, LLC.

RMRI, Inc. Investigative Consulting

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If you look over on the right hand side you will see a caption titled “RMRI Investigative Consulting” and under that caption you will see a “card” with a “Call Me Button” on it. This is something new that I have started that is designed to allow me to help people who are in need of a specific type of help, and also be compensated for my time in doing so.

There are times when you just don’t want to come into an office and ask questions but you need some advice that you believe is important to have. At the same time if you know anything about business then you know that “Time Is Money”.  So you may find yourself confronted with a situation where you might not get the best advice you can get because the person you are seeking the advice from does not have the time to thoroughly advise you due to having to work for paying clients. Well now, with just a phone call you can become a “Paying Client” that does not have to worry about taking up too much of someone’s time that is being paid to attend to others.

RMRI, Inc. now offers Investigative Consultations right over the phone. We can help you with a wide variety of issues. If you are a consumer, we can help you decide if you need a Private Investigator or if you might not need to spend your hard-earned money on hiring one. If it turns out that you do not need a P.I. we can provide “tips” and resources that should greatly assist you in handling whatever issues you have called us about. if you have already hired a Private Investigator or you have one in mind, we can give you the “inside scoop” on that Private Investigator and help you determine if he or she is the right fit for your needs. We can do all of this for a fraction of what we would charge if you otherwise engaged us.

If you are a new Private Investigator or are wanting to become a Private Investigator and start your own business, we can help you with learning about licensing laws, becoming legal, gathering free or inexpensive resources to start your business and/or run your business economically, give you advertising tips, give you document templates for protecting your business and making sure that you get paid, provide Internet links to you that will help you to saves thousands of dollars each year, and much, much more.

Please feel free to call on us if you feel like we can be of assistance. We are standing by ready to take your calls now.

Our Rate Is $1.50/Minute Via Telephone.

Ricky B. Gurley.

Written by Rick Gurley

February 4, 2011 at 9:09 PM

The Criminal Defense Investigator’s Adversarial Role!

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Often times I am asked if it bothers me that “I help to put criminals back on the street”? I get asked this questions in various forms, sometimes “harshly”, sometimes in intelligent debate and/or conversation. I understand that this question is usually a “non-malicious question”; yet I can’t seem to get over the implications that this question makes about the person asking it….

First; let us consider this question: “does it bother you that you help put criminals back on the street”? When you consider this question carefully you can only assume that the person asking this question believes that the defendant in a criminal case is guilty before he or she has ever had their day in court. The logic of this question is that if I work a case as a Criminal Defense Investigator; for a Defendant that is accused of a crime, I am assisting a guilty person in trying to get away with this crime. So; when you think about the person asking the question, you begin to see a person that does not seem to believe in the presumption of innocence, the concept of “innocent until proven guilty”, and the practice of giving a person accused of a crime due process. Of course that person’s views would change considerably if that person was charged with a crime.  The correct philosophy in our current Judicial system is that a person accused and charged with a crime is completely innocent of said crime until they are convicted in a court of law; or at least that is supposed to be the way criminals cases are viewed by our current Judicial System…….. Yes; the questions we ask can often tell much about us….

Second; I think it is important to get into the process of Justice. Our Justice System is designed to be adversarial; the Prosecution and the Defense are adversaries in criminal cases. Both sides are supposed to work hard to prove their opposing theories in a criminal case. Both sides will use various tools that are at their disposal; Investigators, Expert Witnesses, Technology, etc., etc. in trying to prove their case. The hopes are that through this adversarial process, and the hard work that both sides have to do in this adversarial process, the truth will come out; and justice can be served.

Third; I think it is important to define the role of the Criminal Defense Investigator. In a criminal case the Criminal Defense Investigator first and foremost must remain dispassionate, and emotionally detached from the case; no good can come from a biased Investigator in a criminal case. It is important to remember that the quest is for truth and justice, not for a “win”. The Criminal Defense Investigator will assist the Defense Attorney in building his or her case by gathering evidence that will allow the Defense Attorney to accurately assess and evaluate their case. The Criminal Defense Investigator knows that he or she is simply a “tool” that the Defense Attorney has chosen to use in a very delicate process, with very serious consequences. So, it is imperative for the Criminal Defense Investigator to be dispassionate, emotionally detached, and yet also able take his or her job VERY seriously.

Having made these three points, I want to answer the question we are confronting here very bluntly. “Does it bother you that you help put criminals back on the street”? My answer is a resounding NO! Because in a criminal case without a fair process, where the rules and protocols are not strictly adhered to; there is no justice. Even if one guilty man goes free due to poor, inadequate, or dishonest work on behalf of the Prosecution it is the lesser of two evils when you consider that the alternative threatens the very fabric of a fair and impartial Justice System (the term “Prosecution” in this article includes the Investigators, Expert Witnesses, and anyone else working on the side of the Prosecution). The long term effect of the adversarial system used in our current Judicial System is that everybody gets better at their jobs; good Defense Attorneys challenge Prosecutors to be better and vise versa; good Criminal Defense Investigators challenge Law Enforcement Investigators to be better Investigators and vise versa.  I should also mention that I believe it is better to let one hundred guilty people go free than it is to imprison just one innocent man. We can always bring a person to court, but we can never get the years back that an innocent person spends in prison.

Rick.

Written by Rick Gurley

June 28, 2009 at 9:56 AM

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