Complaining Witness: So let me ask you a legal question....let me just get your legal opinion.Sancho: Umm, I can't really give you legal advice. I'm an investigator, not an attorney.Complaining Witness: Yeah whatever, sure. So...it's against the law to have unprotected sex with another person if you have AIDS or something like AIDS and you know it right?Sancho: UmmmComplaining Witness: Right.Sancho: So, I gotta get going.Complaining Witness: Well, I got crabs from her and I'm pretty sure she knew she had crabs when we hooked up.Sancho: Your girlfriend gave you crabs?Complaining Witness: No man! Are you listening to me? My girlfriends sister, she gave me crabs.Sancho: Your girlfriends sister?Complaining Witness: Yeah. So what do you think?Sancho: Well, its not too cool for your girlfriend.Complaining Witness: Nah man, do you think I got a case against my girl's sister?Sancho: You got a case alright.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
2009 NDIA NATIONAL CONFERENCE April 2-3, 2009
for more information go to www.ndia.net :
THURSDAY, APRIL 2
8:30-9:00 am OPENING REMARKS
NDIA Welcome & Robert Wesly, Public Defender
for Orange & Osceola Counties, Ninth Judicial Circuit
9:00-10:30 am PLENARY SESSION, Investigative Lessons
from the Duke Lacrosse Case, Jim Cooney
10:45-12:15 pm BREAKOUTS
Mortgage Fraud, Kevin Tate & Margaret Hix
Sexual Abuse Investigation, Mark Murnan
The Future is Now: Native File E-Discovery, Pam Bishop
Internet Research, Terry Walling
12:15-1:30 pm LUNCH ON OWN
1:30-3:00 pm BREAKOUTS
Computer Forensics - Beginning, Bruce Johnson & Troy Schnack
Cellular Forensics (Triangulation), K. Gus Dimitrelos
Analyzing Social History Records, Betsy Biden & Melissa Kupferberg
Sentencing Mitigation in Child Pornography Cases, Kim Savo
3:15-4:45 pm BREAKOUTS
Selecting and Working with Mental Health Experts, Betsy Biden &
Homicide Investigations, Brandon Perron
Forensic Visual Communication, Brian K. Anders & Cliff Cameron
Complex Fraud Investigations, William Michaelson
5:00 pm NDIA GENERAL BUSINESS MEETING
6:30-9:00 pm PRESIDENT’S RECEPTION
FRIDAY, APRIL 3
8:30-10:00 am GENERAL SESSION, Cognitive
Interviewing, Dr. Ronald Fisher
10:15-11:45 am BREAKOUTS
Cognitive Interviewing, Dr. Ronald Fisher
DNA=Do Not Answer: What Did The Police Lab Miss?, Genetic
Computer Forensics - Advanced, Bruce Johnson & Troy Schnack
Profi ling Using Internet Resources or Other Topics, Michelle Stuart
11:45-1:00 pm LUNCH ON OWN
1:00-2:30 pm BREAKOUTS
Paralegal Roundtable: Practical Suggestions, Jan Kullberg & Panel
Investigator Roundtable: Practical Suggestions, Tom Hinton & Panel
Defending Child Pornography Cases with Computer Forensics,
2:45-4:15 pm PLENARY SESSION, Ethics & My-Space, H. Dean Steward
4:30-5:00 pm CLOSING REMARKS, Certifi cates Presented
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I’m on the lookout for any training/informational materials on tracing weapons (I’m assuming handguns/rifles) back to their owners. This would include any contacts someone might be willing to share with a friend of the blawg (Federal Defender Investigator) and member of DefenderWiki.
If you have any materials you might be willing to share, please email me privately and if you have any contacts, contact me privately as well. I can forward your contact information to the FD Investigator that needs the help.
Throw me a bone people.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I had a case a few months ago where I wanted to find out who was the registered account holder for an America Online email address. I sent a subpoena out to their address for service of process down in Virginia (just as I’ve done in dozens of earlier cases) and put the investigation on hold while I waited for a response.
The day after I faxed the subpoena, I got a two page letter from AOL’s corporate counsel who began with a notice that I had not effected proper service and/or if it turns out there was proper service, AOL was not obligated to respond absent a court order because my office “was not a public agency.”
I work for a pubic defender’s office. My position was created by a statute enacted by a duly elected legislature. I took an exam to get the job and my paycheck has the official seal of my office's jurisdiction stamped all over it.
What part of “[Fill in jurisdiction] Public Defender’s Office” is unclear?
What concerned me most, other than not getting the information I wanted, was AOL’s warning that “except for public agencies” all inquiries of this nature would generate a notice to the target of the subpoena; i.e. the account holder.
I immediately emailed the lawyer for AOL with references to the relevant statutes and the counsel responded with a hollow promise to “review the statute” but AOL never did provide the information I wanted.
A few days later, AOL did make good on one promise: I got a letter from some AOL paralegal advising me that the account holder had been notified of my inquiry.
I’m sure that AOL is fully compliant with law enforcement requests. It is my belief that although their policy is to respond to subpoenas sent by “public agencies”, the company really means they will assist police agencies and not defender offices. This is yet another example of the pro-prosecution mentality which helps to stack the deck against criminal defendants.
What recourse do we as defense investigators have against AOL? If the company were still in the business of providing Internet access, I’d urge everyone on our side of the fence, to cancel their accounts. However, AOL has changed it business model for the fourth time in 13 years. AOL now is a web portal which generates revenue from advertisers and gives its email accounts out for free.
As a public service, I am posting the following information in case anyone still uses AOL and wants to drop it like a bad habit.
To cancel your AOL account, call 1-888-265-8008.
You can also mail AOL at PO Box 65100 / Sterling, VA 20165-8800 or FAX 703-433-7283. Specify that you're cancelling; give your full name, phone number, address and signature, and either the primary billing contact's AOL screen name or the last four digits of the current payment method. Make sure they give you a confirmation number. And if AOL continues billing you, contact the webmaster at AOL Watch. Or contact your credit card company and tell them to reject any charges from AOL.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Anyway about me:
I'm an investigator at a public defender office; on the job for over a decade. I'm a former LEO, ex-paralegal and aspiring journalist. My desire to get involved in this line of work came after I read Anthony Lewis's "Gideon's Trumpet," in college but wasn't offered a job in this field until later in life.
It's the best job I've ever had and it's most the important work I've ever done.
I am also a member of the National Defender Investigator Association. This is a great organization and we're having our national conference in Daytona April 1 - 3, 2009. If anyone is interested visit http://www.ndia.net/ for more details.
The longer I work for the PD's Office, the more I realize that those of us who are out there knocking on doors at 7:00 am on a Sunday morning really do make a difference. And with that in mind, I hope to post useful information that will help us to make that difference. If anyone has anything to add or if I post something that's incorrect, I welcome the feedback.
I had a case a while back where I sent out a subpoena for cell phone records to Verizon Wireless. I asked for "All records of calls from account no. (000) 555-1234"
I got a response from the company about 24 hours later telling me that they were unable to provide any information based on the language of my request.
What part of "All Records" did they not understand?
As luck would have it, I ran into a member of the subpoena compliance department at Verizon and he gave me some very useful information which I will pass on to our readers.
Verizon considers Public Defender offices equivalent to law enforcement agencies and as such will extend every courtesy to PDO's as they would to the police. Their Law Enforcement Response Team (LERT) will divluge subscriber information pursuant to subpoenas, court orders and search warrants. In exigent circumstances, the company will also provide real-time cell tower triangluation but for most of us in defense, a subpoena will be the kind of process served on the company. I realize that I'm running on so, I'll cut to the chase.
Subpoenas can be served by fax to (888) 667-0028. They should be addressed to
Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless
Attn: Custodian of Records
180 Washington Valley Road
Bedminster, NJ 07921
There is no need mail a hard copy to that address but make sure the subpoena is signed by the attorney or court clerk; is endorsed with a facsimile of the court's seal and has an Indictment or Docket Number on it as well as your internal client/matter number. ( The last one may not be necessary but I threw it in there because another carrier, T-Mobile, rejected one of my subpoenas that didn't have a C/M number on it. Why would they care?)
Your demand for production must specifically identify the information you seek and a subpoena will require the company to disclose the following data:
Subscriber - Name, Address, Contact Numbers, Activation Date and number of mobiles on the account for the most current customer unless a timeframe is provided
Subscriber Social Secrutiy Number - (Not available for prepaid accounts)
Tolls - Date, Time and Length of call for outgoing calls, only non-restricted inbound
Call Detail Records - Date, Time and Lenght of Call for outgoing and incoming calls
Features - List of the features subscribed to by the customer
ESN - Electonic Serial Number of the phone
Payment History - Date, Source and Amount of Payments
Calls to A Number - Date, Time and Length of Calls for All Mobiles that called a specific destingation number.
The Verizon rep told me that the LERT will try to respond within 2 weeks and since our meeting, I haven't had any problems with Verizon subpoenas. I have to say that it's a pleasant change in dealing with a company that is so cooperative in a defense investigation.
My subpoena to AOL is a different story and I'll provide all the gory details on that one in my next post.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Public Defender Jeff Adachi said in January that if he wasn't given two more paralegals, his office would start hiring private attorneys to represent murder defendants. Some critics said that he wasn't being a team player. Now, Adachi has turned in a budget proposal that not only doesn't include the requested cuts - it adds $1.7 million to the budget for salaries.
I've always had a lot of respect for Mr. Adachi but now that respect has been multiplied by 10!
(Story from the March 4, edition of the online San Francisco Chronicle by Heather Knight, Marisa Lagos, and Rachel Gordon)
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
I don't know what Tuesday is.
I've been looking for a name I could call it and all I could think of was Taco Tuesday. I like Taco's and they are serving them as a special in the county cafeteria every Tuesday until the end of March.
Unfortunately, that's not how it works.
I am not saying that this site is going to be the End All Resource for Public Defender Investigators but I do hope its at least the Cat's Meow. Once again, if you're interested in access, shoot me an email. Again, you MUST be employed by a Public Defender office in the United States or similar type office out of the country.
My next post is almost half written already! Its called, Why Defense Investigators Can Be Real Dick's Sometimes. A friend forwarded me a thread on a Defense Group Forum that I can't seem to find my Login for and there was a discussion on wearing Jackets in the field that identify ourselves...lets just say the responses were not all friendly.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Has anyone ever had to get medical records in connection with a defense investigation?
Personal Safety in Hospital Parking Lots
Although this a very hard time for you, it is more important now than ever before that you take steps to ensure your own safety and protect yourself from becoming a crime statistic. Your loved one, who lies ill in a hospital bed, is depending on you to be there; offering companionship as well as moral and financial support.
Establishing a safe environment for patients, visitors and employees begins with creating the perception that the hospital is a safe and secure place but, it’s up to you to determine whether or not the security program is really effective or merely an illusion. Ask yourself ‘Do I feel safe in this environment?’, then make critical observations to arrive at an informed conclusion.
Regardless of your answer, you must take responsibility for your own well-being. Always remain on guard when walking to and from your car, no matter what time of the day you normally visit the patient.
CONDUCT A SECURITY SURVEY
How safe is surrounding neighborhood? Is the hospital located in a poor urban area or an affluent suburb? Crime cuts across all social and economic strata but the kind of crime likely to affect you will vary by location. For example, if the hospital is in an area known for carjacking, you may want to reconsider taking your new BMW and opt for the second hand Chevy instead.
Take a good look around the lot, preferably during the daylight hours. First, take note of the overall size of the lot, the location of pedestrian and vehicular exits and whether or not the perimeter is secured by a fence. A fence will help keep the bad guys from getting in but can also prevent you from getting out in case of an emergency.
Is there a visible security presence (i.e. foot or motor patrols)? Do you see any guard booths and, more importantly, is there anyone inside of the booth? Are the guards really screening visitors or are they doing something else (sleeping; watching television)? Motorized patrols can often be identified by flashing yellow roof lights which are turned on whenever the security vehicle is in service.
See if any security cameras have been installed. There’s no guarantee anyone is really monitoring these cameras but remote surveillance can be a strong deterrent to crime. The deterrent effect, and the perception of safety and physical security can be reinforced by posting signs announcing the presence of video cameras.
Take note of lighting and if the poles have signs on them to designate parking areas. Try to park under a pole if possible and back into the space so that you can pull right out in case you need to make a quick get away. In any event, remember where you parked your car. If no signs are posted, select a fixed landmark and use that to remember where you parked.
If you can’t find your car, you’ll look like you are lost and may run a greater risk of being victimized than someone who appears to know where they are headed. Of course you should have your keys ready as you approach your car. If you have a new car equipped with an electronic lock release you probably also have a panic alarm feature on the control tag. Test your panic alarm periodically to make sure it works.
Some hospitals have emergency call boxes placed in strategic locations throughout their parking lots. They are a direct link to the central security dispatch and usually marked by a blue light. If your lot has call boxes, take a look at them and figure out they operate before an emergency arises. Some hospitals still have old fashioned fire alarm pull boxes placed away from the building complex. The pull box is an equally effective way to get help but, in some localities they are being phased out, so make sure that the box is still operational (by asking not by sending in an alarm!)
Many hospitals, especially those with large campuses and distant parking lots, provide shuttle buses for employees and visitors. This service is usually run by the Security or Transportation Department. The only drawback is that it may be unavailable during the early morning or late evening hours.
Unfortunately, deterrent applications like signs, cameras, lights and guards most often serve only to keep honest people from committing crimes. A truly determined violent criminal will ignore these safeguards.
GET TO KNOW THE PEOPLE WHO WORK AT THE HOSPITAL
Since you will become a familiar face at the hospital, it is important to interact with the staff on a daily basis. The hospital is like a self-contained city. The staff and long-term care patients are the citizens who live there. Most of the employees will go out of their way to help you; even if they’ve never met you before. When they get to know you, they’ll treat you like you are a member of their community.
One of the most important aspects of any hospital security program is the ID card system. It is probably safe to say that there is not one accredited hospital in the United States that doesn’t require ALL employees (including hospital police and security guards) to wear a photo ID card at all times while on the property. Some staff members hate the idea of wearing this badge because they feel it intrudes on their privacy. They may turn it over to hide their name and picture or keep in a pocket; but you can always ask to see it and they should show it to you.
How does this affect you? First of all, you should be able to recognize an official hospital ID card for your hospital. Remember that the hospital may issue different kinds of cards for different categories of people working there. This includes contractors or vendors who may only have a short-term or casual relationship with the hospital as well as contractors or vendors who have been with the hospital for many years.
Those in the former group, like sales people or construction workers, are relatively untested and may lead you astray (either by accident or by design). Those in the latter group, like contract security guards and parking attendants, are probably as reliable as any regular employee. They may be even more helpful because of their contractual relationship with the hospital.
Second, and more important, don’t assume that just because someone is wearing a white lab coat that says "Radiology" and carries a clipboard, that this individual is a bona fide X-Ray technician. That person probably does work in the Radiology Department and really does want to see you safely out to your car but, if you have any doubt, ask to see a hospital ID.
Also, try to figure out who you are talking to. It seems that everyone who works in a hospital, from the newest orderly to the Chief of Internal Medicine, walks around dressed in scrubs. Look for clues, like name tags that read "RN" or uniform insignia that say "POLICE", and respect their job titles. It is an ego issue but these professionals worked hard to get to where they are now and are very proud of their accomplishments. This courtesy will help to separate you from the rest of the unwashed masses.
One of the most important people in the hospital is the nursing supervisor. On a midnight shift the nursing supervisor is often the highest ranking administrator on duty .They are very busy people and should not be bothered with petty grievances but can be powerful allies when family members need to address patient care issues that have not been resolved at the lower administrative levels.
HOW TO GET HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT
Hospitals are very concerned with access control and therefor you will always find a security checkpoint in at least two locations: The main entrance to the hospital and the emergency room. As long as these doors are open, you know where you can always find help. The employees working these posts, usually can’t leave unless they are responding to an emergency. However, they should have some latitude to watch you walk out to your car or, if they know you well enough, possibly call another officer to give you an escort.
If you have a cell phone, you should have the emergency number for the hospital security dispatch programmed into your speed dial. This information should be available from any security officer on duty or from the tour commander. Explain that you will be a frequent visitor to the hospital and that you will often be coming and going at odd hours. If for some reason they won’t give you the dispatch number, find out what number you can call in the event of an emergency.
DANGER WILL ROBINSON! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!
What do you do if you think someone is following you in the parking lot? First of all REMAIN CALM and try to remember everything you learned in your security survey. If call boxes, pull stations or manned gate houses seem to be among your best options, use them to your advantage. It’s not a good idea to run for your car unless you are very close to it and the person following you is quite far away. You don’t have a whole lot of time and the person following you may in fact be after your car.
Another reason you don’t want to try to escape in your car is that in a panic situation, many people lose control of their fine motor skills. You may not remember to use the remote unlocking tag or you may fumble with the ignition key. Also, the car may not start quickly enough for you to get out of there. Another grim reality is that the person following you may have disabled your car and is just waiting for you to go back to it.
In an open parking lot, cut across several rows of cars and walk against the flow of traffic back toward the hospital. The reason for this is twofold. By cutting across the rows of parked cars you may be able to tell if that person is really following you. When you walk against the flow of traffic, you prevent an accomplice from coming up behind you in a vehicle and can see if anyone driving toward you is acting in an unusual manner such as going very fast or bearing down on you.
While you are taking evasive action, which may include running away, you should be on your cell phone talking to the hospital security dispatcher. Tell the desk officer that you think someone is about to harm you and give the officer your exact location. Next, describe the stalker by race and sex then by clothing, For example ‘Help. I’m about to be robbed. I’m in parking area G-6 near the light pole. A white man wearing a black jacket and blue jeans has been following me for the past five minutes.’
Stay on the phone with the dispatcher to provide additional information especially since you are moving through the lot and will probably be in a different area by the time a patrol car arrives. Try to keep an eye on the person following you and watch for any additional malefactors who may be in the lot on foot or in a vehicle.
The information presented above is specific to a conventional parking lot but many hospitals, especially those in urban areas, have multiple story parking garages instead. The safety tips will mostly be applicable in a parking garage but, addition to all of the hazards which exist in parking lots, garages often have no pedestrian walkways, limited sight distance, are poorly lighted and may prevent you from getting a signal on your cell phone.
Worst of all, garages offer limited escape routes. If you are on an upper level, the only ways down are the stairs, the elevator or over the side; the last option being a Hobson’s Choice in the event you are faced with imminent bodily harm from an assailant. The one redeeming factor is that parking garages should always have at least one fire alarm pull box.
If valet parking is offered at the hospital, use it and let the parking attendant go up into the garage.
STAIRS OR ELEVATORS?
Which is safer? Elevators have audible alarms and intercoms to summon help. Sometimes they have cameras. The bad news is that they do get stuck or can be stopped by a passenger inside of the elevator car. If there is no camera and the alarm is not working, a mugger or rapist can trap you inside of a very small, very private space.
It’s really a judgment call, but at least the stairs offer an egress at every floor. Even though that exit may put you right back into the enclosed parking garage you can still run and scream or possibly get to a fire alarm pull station. The pull box, although effective in calling for help will not let anyone know where you are or why you called. You still have to avoid letting your assailant catch you until help actually arrives.
Your personal safety program begins long before you enter the hospital campus with a determination to not become a victim. Your confidence is evident in your demeanor and bearing. You know where you are going, you know what to look for, where you can get immediate assistance and you’ve made contacts with key people at the hospital. They are on your side and will support you during this difficult period in your life.
Hopefully, you will never need to test this advice but the affirmative steps you’ve taken will help prepare you for the worst.