The Legal Investigator Spring 2011 : Page 2
civil focus ADVANCED by Craig Wesley Rimer, C.L.I., J.D. SERVICE OF PROCESS TECHNIQUES First Things First Communication with legal counsel is extremely important. The proper name, address, appearance date, time and location should be double checked. It is the policy of many investigative services organizations to review the service package before delivery. Many times it is the investigator that was involved in research relating to the case serving the documents as they know the witnesses and parties, what they look like, as well as their attitudes concerning willingness to testify. They know the facts of the case and can certainly review a subpoena duces tecum for requested documents and point out items that may be missing. A current address is certainly of great value. How many times have we all made multiple trips to a residence only to find on the eve of trial that the witness has moved leaving no forwarding address? This is exactly why an experienced investigator will ask for a contact or relative as part of the interview process. Sadly, many times such a missing witness is never found timely which can have an effect as set forth above. Thus, it places the investigator into a skip trace setting that become somewhat frantic and expensive at the last minute. The number one rule is to compel counsel to start early the legal investigator “ 4 One at times has to be part mountain goat to access some properties these days. Proper service of process is an essential step in most litigation whether criminal, civil or administrative. This certainly would include summons, subpoenas, court orders and various other documents necessary to provide due process notice to the parties of an action at bar. Poor or improper service can change the outcome of these proceedings sometimes resulting in extreme and/or irreversible detriment to those seeking justice or provide a procedural escape route to another not so deserving. A very simple example is the trial subpoena that either is not served timely or not at all on a critical witness. This places the attorney in the position of arguing to have a deposition admitted as testimony, should a deposition had been taken, or arguing under the evidence code pursuant to witness not available all of which is a very slippery slope (and, picking up that “five hundred” pound phone and placing Lawyers Mutual on notice of an impending claim). Proper preparation is critical as to the pleadings and the timing of service. However, the one factor that is not under definitive control is the availability and location of witnesses when they are needed for testimony or to be served with documents bringing them under the jurisdiction of a particular court or administrative body.