The Investigative Process and The Attorney Series - Part 4
The fourth step in the investigative process is writing the report of the interview. This may be the most critical step in the process.
We generally write our reports in the first person and include them as a summary of the interview, followed by bullet points of what the person relayed to our team. If there is an exact quote we place the quote in quotation marks.
We include int the report everything the person divulged, both good and bad. It is essential that the attorney receives not only the good, but the bad information that a witness may have brought to the table. In criminal defense work, often the information from the subject is bad, but there’s the old adage that “bad can be good.” There is nothing worse than being surprised by a witness on the stand who had bad information that an investigator did not relay to you.
All of the reports should be labeled attorney/client work product.
In our reports, my preference is that the report contain the following paragraph: “This report has been prepared for counsel and is subject to the protections of the attorney/client privilege and the attorney work product doctrine. Information obtained during the interview has been reorganized and summarized for clarity and is not a verbatim transcription of the interview. The report contains no impressions, thoughts and analysis of the information provided by the witness.”
In reality we do not include in our reports personal mental impressions and thoughts about a witness. These are presented in a separate memo to the attorney in case the report ever has to be discovered.
The report should not contain a lot of extraneous information, but rather, information pertinent to the topic and subject at hand.
It is impossible to record exactly what someone says, and if that is the goal, then a tape recorder, with the permission of the person being interviewed, should be used. We believe that recorders generally hinder the transfer of information and make the subject more cautious with their words. As indicated earlier, we prefer the summary technique and require the attorney meets the witness, if possible, before placing them on the stand.
If there is a conflict we are ready to take the stand and testify.