Sunday, February 22, 2009

Attorneys - Help me to help you.

As you probably know by now from reading my blog, I do a lot of murder cases for the defense.

Some of them are pretty high profile.  Especially the capital murder cases.  I also work other kinds of cases for the defense; sex crimes, fraud, while collar crimes, etc.

I also do quite a bit of civil work on both sides, for the plaintiff or for the defense, depending on who hires me.

Over the years, I have really appreciated the willingness of the attorneys I have worked for to share information with me.  By including me in the team, I have been able to be very successful in helping attorneys get to the facts in cases involving electronic evidence.

However, from time to time, and this happened recently, I get on a case where the attorney is not willing to share all the information.

This puts a strain on my relationship with the attorney and impedes my ability to do a complete and thorough job.

Now, I may be out of line, since I don't work with other experts much.  I have no idea how attorneys approach them or work with them or share information with them.

However, computer and other electronic evidence is very broad in scope and can yield information that is unexpected when viewed through the lens of a complete review of the evidence in a case.

In my most successful cases, I have found things that have helped clients avoid the death penalty where in other circumstances they surely would have gone down that path.

I have located information in civil cases that have saved clients a lot of money in potential legal fees and jury awards.

Sometimes, the best thing I do is to get information that allows an attorney to negotiate a good plea agreement or civil settlement for the client where going to trial would be costly and less than optimal.

Getting back to my original point, if the attorney is not willing to give me information, I cannot connect the dots in a case or be innovative in my search of the electronic evidence in ways that might not be immediately apparent until I have studied everything in the case.

I know it is probably unusual for an expert to want to review all the discovery in a case, or at least to get whatever information the attorney might be thinking along the lines of their "theory."  However, I do not know of any other expert specialty that touches so many aspects of a case.

The bottom line is, if the attorney that hires me does not trust me enough to give me information, I will do the best job I can with the information I get.  However, this is a little like cutting off your nose to spite your face as they say down here in the South.

I realize that many attorneys have not dealt with computer forensics experts very much, and in many cases that I get, they have never dealt with a computer forensics expert.

I am not the guy you want to keep information from when that information may very well lead me to find just the thing you most need to know in a case.

If you as an attorney are worried about confidentiality, I can understand that.  On my side, maintaining confidentiality is part and parcel to what I do.

If you hire me, you can expect complete confidentiality on my part.  If you hire me, I expect full disclosure on your part.

After all, the goal is to do the best job possible for the client.

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