Criminal Case Investigators

I would have avoided got kicked around in the court room like a can and some of it started when I was an assistant D.A in Cleveland. I got some real fundamental rules; always go to the scene and then be willing to get your papers, your fingertips cut out on the paper. Whether it’s the file or, I remember one case there’s a prosecutor, it was a sex assault case, we had a confession that he’d admitted part of it but did not all of it. His defense was, “Hey I didn’t really admit to all that, that officer said all that. I just signed my name, I’m illiterate”. But our first assistant had beaded into my head; always go out to the jail and read their read their jail shack! Well, guess who had written a bunch of complaints about all the guards and request for leave and 1983 suits; Mr. Freaking illiterate! So, we got to cross examine him with his prior inconsistent statements. That burned it into my brain. Just get off your butt and go dig through the file. Investigation really though should, it begins in your mind.

Knowledge is power and I don’t just mean that in terms of what shakes out in court. When you’re negotiating with somebody, when you’re sitting down and listening to your client, you feel better. If you have a clue about what’s going on and where this was. You know, when we read books, we paint pictures in our mind of what the scene looks like.

Well, if you begin a case not thinking; well we better hurry up, we’re going to, you know, by the initial description maybe you know,” Man, this clients really hozed and we’re going to have to duck and hope for a good deal”. The best way to get a good deal, is to look like you might win a trial, and be willing to go to that ninth, you know, that last yard.

So, you want to go to the scene, but what if it’s not a scene case you think, a murder or shooting, it’s just a road pop, a drug case out on a boring stretch of highway on I-27! You hear me? Go to the scene! You need to know where the exits are. You need to know, you know while it may not show up on the troopers MVR, there can be a business across the road, a farm house, other people, and cattle! There’s anything that could be in the area. But until you go there you don’t know!

Preparation helps! Good facts win! Well if you just read a police report, and how many people were assistant D.A’s for a little while before you were… Okay! Remember when you got to work in take. You know may be right out of school, you’ve been some rest, you get the police report and its just a natural part of psychology, the first thing we hear is what we think is! And it shapes the pictures we have in out mind! Well it didn’t take too terribly long, especially if you’re the one whose files it, you got to track which was in real in our office, you know in this intake division put a bunch of crap on the trial people stuff! You found out just because it was in a police report, or just because the officer interviewed this witness and they said that, means its going to work out like that in a Court room and trial or that they’re good witness, at all. You can learn those things by poking around.

The “how and why” of something maybe equally or more important than what happened and even little things like having a, 8 minute ALR hearing where you subpoenaed the officer, I don’t know about y’all I finally, two weeks ago won my first ALR hearing. 25 years of being a lawyer [audience laughs] you know we’ve done federal death penalty work dammit; we’ve won motions, never won a damn ALR! Finally, two weeks ago won one. But I have lost a bunch of them but, I at least learned the personality of this particular officer. Do they take on that real, you know, junior GI,” Yes we’ve approached the suspect vehicle Da DA DA DA DA!” Just charge and charge and push and push and sneering, DARING YOU to cross examine them. Defense lawyer!

Or maybe they come in and they’re the death machine. Well they act like Andy Griffin, you know I just hated to pull him over you know, and God he fell out of the car [audience laughs] and he smelled so bad and threw up. I knew he had a good job, he was a good guy and I didn’t want to take him to jail but he was just so drunk! Aaaghh! And if you didn’t know before NVRs you know in 1988, 1989, that’s how a good officer testified in a DWI trial! They got up there; well you know, I know he had a good job at Santa Fe and it paid $20 an hour and his wife and them young ones but, I just couldn’t let him go down the road this time.

And you got a shot to the ribs there. And you got up and your defense and all his drinking buddies,” oh hell he’s the best one of us! No he wouldn’t drink and he’s fine!” And hope the jury let him go. Well its come full circle.

Now you got all these NVRs and everything. If you can learn somebody’s personality, it might help you shape not only your cross outline, but how you’d, in opening statement put this person in the cast of characters. Before the State introduces video #1, which I can’t wait for y’all to see, because then you’re going to see how, innocent people get arrested for DWI. You’re going to hear them, from trooper McCoy! The trooper who never made a mistake! You just called him something in your opening statement. How’d you know that! From reading trooper McKinley’s report, you don’t! But if you [inaudible 2.43] you know he’s a prickersaurus who’s never wrong about anything!
[Audience laughs]

Okay? What are their personalities? What, are they smart? Are they stupid? Franklin won a back while there that amazed all of us. There was a 159 breath test and a 161 on the second test. And you read their report, it’s horrible. Until the officer testifies. This guy made you think Norman Bates was your best friend. I mean, what’s your name? “Officer Johnson”. Are you nervous? “No, no why? Who said I’m nervous!” He look like a squirrel on meth in a rocking chair room! [Audience laughs] And, you know, he gave the creeps to EVERYBODY! And Frank knew that, because he had an ALR with this warm little dude at a, you know, Wolfforth police department. You read the report, sounds like a loser! You watch the video sounds like a loser! Have a privileged conversation with your client. Ok we won’t be testifying about what we drank that night. Until slime ball, or goofy you know, it sounds like you know, by forms of pedophile for a police officer, got up there and testified! You learn this through investigation. And you don’t have to hire an investigator. I don’t know about you all but when I was doing court appointments in Odessa, they didn’t give you money for an investi… that’s just something you beat, feed and did on your own! So I still do.

But you got to think! You got to think analytically. And I mean this logically. Like doctor Spock. Assume nothing’s true. Even after you think you know what’s right! Hold break a little bit. Think about it emotionally! “Okay yeah technically we know the law and all, but really, Is this that bad? Is this wrong? What’s going on there? What’s the drama triangle here? Are you going to shoot for nullification? Do you have a bigger picture! Be creative! It’s kind of like the old, what was it; the Mickey Mouse club, be an imaginer! What Herly says! Even after you get in an answer. Be inquiring; ask the basic things a journalist would ask! What, who, when, where and how. Even among the most mundane cases, driving while license’s suspended, possession of class P marijuana. Think about it.

If you don’t want to get up out of your seat, though there’re some great resources where all of us learned or at least been haunted by; that client you told to delete their Facebook account! With the smirky little guy hurling,” Now you need to get ready your Facebook account” because he had all these pictures of him with; beer bongs and all his friends, with marijuana bongs and…! Yet in the trial he testifies,” Got a Facebook account?” “No.” And they ask him that name,” Nope. I deleted that one.” “Oh I’m sorry, it was Taylor Durant 2!” Little shit turned around and opened up a new one with because he’s, you know one of these ethically challenged college students, “well if you don’t catch me, that means I can really do it, and if I just change one thing, I technically deleted my Facebook account like you told me to but, I created the one I wanted to create because I’m so fucking smart!” you know the answers his…

This is just really making them peachy in front of the jury in sentencing! But that was on his Facebook page. You never know what you know if you Google people. That’s pretty good. That should be Lexus with an ‘I’. West and Matthew Benhur had some good products but, DPS has some nice stuff you can look at. You can pay for some criminal history. The sexual offender database that haunts that many of our clients! Well, you know it’s kind of nice when a witness for the States pops up on that and nobody bothered to ask that question or even know.

Especially, this happens a lot in cases with the sheriff’s office, in a rural area or it’s on the fringe of town that’s just, you know like you get out past the Balt springs in Dallas. Whereas Dallas County SL and the witness who saw the car wreck of you know George Milners may be intoxicated client who T-boned somebody else, “yeah I saw him, he was the driver.” Well Fistus Johnson, why is he living out here at rural out 5, you know Turiel Texas.

Fairly, he’s supposed to be around children. Look here’s his mug shot. He’s like barely human according to DPS. Look for it. Let’s go to the really good thing. If we were to stop the talk after you wrote these 3 websites down. It’d be worth it. Right here! The best one is TLO.com, their XP features. For $2, you can get just an overview. That’d be better than a $2 beer, just check that thing out and see what they have. For every person you search its $5. Now you can buy a subscription that’s a lot better deal. But if you just want to step gently into the water, do it that way. I do suggest if you’ve got a big case, cross reference! Use all 3. Because what you’ll find is the data available to the search engines, there is a universal realm that is, within all of them. But because of how they choose to collect data and the personnel they use to get it, you will see the 3 areas where they’re different. Each of them, the bulk of the material is the same, but each of them will also have a little 5 to 15 % area, that is different than the other search engines. And sometime, it’s the nugget you need! Especially if you are trying to track people down, it’s really critical that you run all 3. But tlo.com, XP, if they were a way to get it Frank, and pull of his, and zap it to me and zap it to the phone but apparently there is no internet allowed in building! [Audience laughs] So, that didn’t get to happen. You can do great stuff with your computer when you’re working with the team. Let’s say you get Cynthia.org and you get a big capital K, so you’re doing a wreck, and you get, you know 2 San Antonio phone books worth of paper to start the case, and there are bunch of witnesses, and your working with a team. Well that team may not all of be right be in your office together. You may be working with lawyers or people or an investigator, who are in other places. Well you can start a master name list and everybody in the case, so you know who they are. You can have an investigation task list after you have a team meeting, we brain storm, we have all these great ideas; I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that! Yeah, charge! And nobody does anything. Well, you can make it the nagger. You can make it an accountability list, and then if you use drop box or Google drive or share file or sky drive, you can all have your file together without being in the same location! And even I, the technologically challenged, Frank would give you my name in, can use Google drive! I actually have it. The thing they say is better about share file is, a friend who’s a professor told me about it…!

Here’s the difference; ok, drop box, if you’re not a computer person and I’m not. Let me describe it like this; it’d be like an imaginary depository box in the sky that we can all go, like a library and Frank can read a document and I can read him a document and Cynthia can read a document, and we’re not be in the same place and it’s all cool but, nobody knows that anybody else has read it. With shared file, and if you’re going to have your papers graded later on a capital case or sex-assault, it has a login! And you can see that people have read a document, and when they looked at it or how long they looked at it. And its time charted for you. So if you have a client later, you didn’t do any work on my case and you just pled me out because you were scared to do a trial…! Now if I’d known what I knew then, well I would have gone to trial, you sorry son of a gun! No, did our homework look, here it is. It could be a convenient discovery tool. If you get some discovery and before this new bill if you were to provide it with your client and, their momma wants a copy and daddy wants a copy and everybody wants to read the DWI police report about, how they were profiling your Texas test student, because they were the only frat boy parking their car in the fountain.

Francisco Hernandez

Author Francisco Hernandez

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