Courtesy of Kris Cantil (Kane Conslting, UT) - "At the heart of an effective defense is an adequate investigation. Without sufficient investigation, a defense attorney, no matter how intelligent or persuasive in court, renders deficient performance and jeopardizes his client's defense." Richter v. Hickman,578 F.3d 944, 946 (9th Cir. 2009).
Feature Article from the June AFI-LLC Newsletter
Wrongful Convictions and Comprehensive Investigations
Karen S. Beers, BSW, CCDI
(for the complete newsletter - Click Here)
False confessions and false accusations seem to be the “norm” these days. Add to the mix one-angle sighted police officers, prosecutors, and jurors, you get wrongful convictions. These wrongful convictions take years to undo and those years taken away from the wrongfully convicted can never be given back.
Even when a lawsuit brings monetary gains to the wrongfully convicted, the wrong done can never be erased from their minds as well as the minds of others. Even when you have “exonerated” on your criminal record, some people believe you must have done something and are only getting off on some legal technicality. Yes, those legal technicalities do exist although rare, and the numbers keep mounting up for the innocent victims of our judicial system.
Although you cannot have a perfect system, simple changes can add up to fewer wrongful convictions. To start what can be done is to conduct thorough investigations. Looking at all angles of facts and then following through until you prove or disprove any evidence obtained. Too often evidence is tossed aside because it does not fit the current mind set of the individual doing the investigation, whether it is in the government or private sector. This type of investigation is not a thorough investigation, it is a lazy one-angled investigation, and it is assisting in the devastation of the wrongfully accused.
Money seems to be an issue in conducting a thorough investigation. However, the money utilized in the investigative process is far less than the money lost in law suits. Educating the public on “real” investigations and what it truly takes to follow through rather than what they see on television, which has become known as the “CSI” effect. These individuals watching CSI may be part of a jury one day, which could lead to either the innocent being sent to prison or possibly death, or the guilty being set free back into our society.
Not only do the wrongfully convicted live a nightmare in prison, the families and friends of the victims in these cases have to relive their nightmare all over again. Remember, when the wrongfully convicted are put behind bars, the families and friends of the victims believe the right person was convicted in the crime of their loved ones. Then to find out years later the wrong person was convicted in the crime, the fight for their personal justice starts all over again.
All professional investigators should pride themselves in conducting thorough investigations no matter how big or small the case may be. It does not matter the type of case working on, they need to be worked from every angle possible. A one-angled investigation is not acceptable. Think of looking through the lens of a camera, you can take a one-angled photo which may give you a few facts needed in your investigation; or you can take a panoramic photo and get perhaps all of the facts, the good, the bad, and the ugly, needed in your investigation.
Find below links to the innocence project as well as a few cases recently in the news of wrongfully accused and convicted innocent human beings whose lives were unnecessarily turned completely upside down.
Karen S. Beers, BSW, CCDI, earned her Bachelor's in Social Work from Colorado State University (Magna Cum Laude). She is a Colorado Licensed Private Investigator (#PI-502) and also a Certified Criminal Defense Investigator (CCDI) and certified in Medicolegal Death Investigations. Her background, education and experience with victim advocacy and counseling are valuable assets in working with families and victims of traumatic events.
As a death investigator Karen was involved in the investigations of all manners of deaths and incidents, training under three Forensic Pathologists. From 2004-2006 she investigated and assisted with numerous death cases and scenes, and assisted with forensic autopsies.
Following graduation from Colorado State University was an extensive internship at a youth counseling and rehabilitation facility. She is also a member of the Criminal Defense Investigations Training Council. Karen has been professionally published with 'The Basics of an Autopsy Report' (PI Magazine, Dec 2011) and 'Understanding Suicide and its Prevention – Equivocal Death Investigations' (PursuitMag.com, Dec 2011), ‘False Confessions and Accusations’ (PursuitMag.com, Feb 2012). With Dean she co-developed 'Death Investigation for Private Investigators', an online continuing education course for www.PIEducation.com.
Karen is a member of the Criminal Defense Investigation Training Council and the National Defender Investigator Association.
Karen enjoys also using her creative mind with painting, drawing and writing - including 'Letters from Yesteryear' at www.LettersFromYesteryear.com. They have two daughters, a granddaughter and identical twin grandsons.