Practical Methods for Legal Investigations: Concepts and Protocols in Civil and Criminal Cases, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Practical Methods for Legal Investigations

Concepts and Protocols in Civil and Criminal Cases, 1st Edition

By Dean A. Beers, CLI

CRC Press

382 pages | 41 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2011-02-09
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Legal investigators are responsible for providing factual evidence – as the fact finders, they are the foundation for the attorneys they work with daily. The attorney is responsible for forming and implementing the legal strategy and presenting it to the judge or jury. The legal investigator provides checks and balances to ensure that no evidence is being forced upon a theory, and that no theory is being forced upon the evidence. Practical Methods for Legal Investigations: Concepts and Protocols in Civil and Criminal Cases presents legal investigators with a step-by-step process that reveals how to methodically find and report evidence in every aspect of the investigative process.

Similar to the scientific principle of using research to prove or disprove a theory, the author’s Investigative Protocol is designed to find the facts that prove or disprove criminal charges, civil allegations, or elements thereof. The book includes case studies that clearly detail how the process of the Investigative Protocol applies to every assignment of the case and to the case as a whole. Comprehensive and methodical, the system provides a map to the truth.

Readers can discuss the book on the Yahoo Group Practical Methods for Legal Investigations.

On March 25, 2012, Dean and Karen Beers were featured guests on Crime Time with Vito Colucci on the BusinessTalkRadio Network.

Dean Beers discusses the book in a video on the CRC Press YouTube Channel.


"Mr. Beers' exemplary performance can be traced to his merger of life experience with in-depth study of criminalistics and meticulous attention to detail. His investigations show a unique combination of ‘book smarts’ and common sense."

"Dean is an expert forensic photographer and was one of the most thorough medicolegal death investigators I have encountered in my career. He showed great skill during scene investigations, performing case follow-up, and in the autopsy suite. He is a credit to the profession and I believe his work displays a commitment to the forensic sciences and investigative services. His work in both photography and medicolegal investigations is detailed, thorough, objective, and of the highest quality."

Stephen J. Cina, MD, Forensic Pathologist,

"The painstaking inquiry of the legal investigator is indispensable to the competent and successful trial attorney and to the effective administration of justice in this country."

National Association of Legal Investigators / Certified Legal Investigator Program,

" … an information packed, all inclusive "Legal Investigator’s Manual" providing a thorough understanding of the knowledge, skills and practices required in order to become the successful, highly valued investigator on any legal team. … should be a ‘must-read’ for every new investigator making his or her way into criminal defense and civil negligence matters. … The wealth of information in this book is both comprehensive and timeless."

Pursuit Magazine

"I have in front of me a textbook that all professional investigators should read. Dean Beers … has managed to do a great job of compiling a handbook of concepts and protocols that apply to both civil and criminal investigations. … From the outset, this text thoroughly and concisely walks you through an investigation, covering a variety of civil and criminal investigations, from photography to death analysis and all things in between."

Florida Association of Licensed Investigators Newsletter

"This is a powerful work, well researched and professionally written. Beers is a sophisticated, no-nonsense investigator. His writing style produces a readable text that is sufficiently technical and complex so as to not bore or dissatisfy a seasoned legal investigator. Beers has produced a valuable tool that most experts in this fascinating field will want to add to their library."

—Eugene F. Ferraro, CPP, in Security Management

Table of Contents

What Is a Professional Legal Investigator?

The Professional Legal Investigator

Five Qualities of a Professional Legal Investigator

The Passionate Search for the Facts

The Goals of the Professional Legal Investigator

The Three Requirements of All Investigations

What Roles Are Played in the Legal Drama?

Stage 1: Prepare


Prepare—Records and Reports





Prepare—Transition to Inquire Stage

Stage 2: Inquire


Inquire—Records and Reports


Civil and Criminal—Motor Vehicle Collision



All Types of Cases





Inquire—Expanding the Investigation

Inquire—Request More Information

Inquire—Transition to Analyze Stage

Stage 3: Analyze


Analyze—Records and Reports





Overall Analysis and Transition to Document Stage

Stage 4: Document


Document—Evidentiary Discovery and Disclosures

Document—Attorney-Client and Client (Plaintiff or Defendant)

Document—Legal Investigator’s Work Product

Document—Transition to Report Stage

Stage 5: Report



Report—Case Initiation or Case Status (Prepare)

Report—Incident Synopsis (Prepare)

Report—Provided Information (Prepare)

Report—Discovery or Disclosure (Prepare)

Report—Witnesses or Persons of Interest (Prepare and Inquire)

Report—Backgrounds of Involved Parties and Witnesses (Prepare and


Report—Interviews, Contacts, or Statements (Prepare, Inquire,

and Analyze)

Report—Interview Summaries and Transcripts (Inquire and Analyze)

Report—Scene Surveys or Investigations and Descriptions (Inquire,

Analyze, and Document)

Report—Investigative Processes (All Stages—Focus on Inquire)

Report—Investigative Findings or Expert Opinions (Inquire, Analyze, and


Report—Key Points of Opposing Investigation (Inquire, Analyze, and


Report—Audio Recordings, Video Recordings, and Photography


Report—Attachments, Reports, and Records Acquired (Document)

Report—Evidence Collection, Retention, and Distribution (Document)

Report—Pending Assignments and Activities (Analyze and Document)

Report—Recommendations (Analyze)

Report—Summary (Complete Investigative Protocol)

Report—Certification and Confidentiality Statements

Report—Presentation to the Attorney-Client

Report—Other Common Reports

Report—Other Considerations

Understanding the Completion of this Investigative



Stage 1: Prepare

Stage 2: Inquire

Stage 3: Analyze

Stage 4: Document

Stage 5: Report

The Legal Investigator

The 80/20 Rule of Investigation (and All Things Related)


Stage 1: Prepare

Stage 2: Inquire

Stage 3: Analyze

Stage 4: Document

Stage 5: Report

An Investigator’s Day

Rules and Ethics as Agent for Attorneys

Ethics and Professional Licensing

Ethics and Rules of Evidence

Common Rules Violated

Ethics Scenario

Specific Applicable Rules of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Legal


Scenario (Criminal)

Specifics to the Rules of Professional Conduct (Investigators)

Pretexting for Investigative Purposes

Five Qualities of a Professional Investigator

Equivocal Legal Investigations and Subject Assessment

Chronic and Acute Subject Assessment Factors in ELIs

The Legal Investigator’s Relationship with Families

Conducting Comprehensive Background Investigations


Scenario—Hit and Run

Examples of What Can Be Found in Public Records

Tips and Techniques

Crash Course on Forensic Photography


Recommended Equipment

Highlights of Recommended Policy

Key Purposes of Forensic Photography

Proper Photographic Techniques

Improving Techniques and Results

Protocols of the Forensic Photographer (Including Law Enforcement)

Recording, Archiving, and Distribution of Images

Enhancing vs. Manipulating Images

Courtroom and Evidence


Reviewing and Comprehending Autopsy Reports


An Overview of Death Investigation

Autopsy Report Format and Contents

Nonconforming Autopsy Reports

What to Look For

Investigative Considerations


Introduction to Common Composite Scenarios: Using This Investigative Protocol and Reporting

Investigating Nursing Home and Elder Deaths (and Abuse)

Case Initiation and Assignments

Incident Synopsis

Key Facilities, Agencies, and Persons

Social History

Medical History Summary

Medical and Incident Records Review

Other Records Reviewed

Incident Witnesses

Staff Professional Disciplinary Actions


Investigative Summary


Incident to Death Determination

Scenario Conclusion

Equivocal Death Analysis and Investigation

Case Initiation

Incident Synopsis

Identification and Assessment


Description of the Scenes

Social History and Victimology

Medical History

Case Investigation

Scenario Conclusion

Investigating Motor Vehicle Collisions

Case Initiation and Assignments

Incident Synopsis

Collision Scene Description

Persons of Interest

Scene Photography and Videography

Interview Summaries

Attachments to This Report

Additional Information


Additional Recommendations


Scenario Conclusion

Criminal Defense—Felony Assault and Sex Assault

Case Initiation and Assignments

Incident Synopsis

Prosecuting Attorney Discovery

Persons of Interest

Investigative Review of Discovery Witnesses

Evidence Analysis

Scene Photography and Videography

Description of the Scenes

Social History and Victimology

Medical History

Interview Summaries (Transcripts Are Attached)

Audio Recordings Retention and Distribution

Other Records Reviewed

Additional Information

Case Investigation/Investigative Findings


Additional Recommendations


Scenario Conclusion


Appendix A: The Legal Investigator Defined

Appendix B: Miranda Warning and Waiver

Appendix C: Incident Scene Investigation Protocol

Appendix D: Criminal Investigation Tips in Crimes

Against Persons

Appendix E: Records for Basic Background Checks

Appendix F: Fact-Finding Investigation Report

Appendix G: Agency Policy for Forensic/Evidentiary

Digital Photography

Appendix H: Video and Photograph Log

Appendix I: Medical and Investigative Records Release—

HIPAA Compliant

Appendix J: Confidential Medical Records Request Fax

Appendix K: Helpful Information for Reviewing and

Comprehending Autopsy Reports

Appendix L: Forensic Autopsy Report

Appendix M: Full Body, Male, Anterior and Posterior Views

Appendix N: Professional Codes of Ethics

Appendix O: Recommended Reading and Reference Books



About the Author

Dean A. Beers, CLI, formed his legal investigative agency in 1987, quickly becoming a leading and innovative provider of investigative, legal, and trial support services. His services include incident and scene investigations, causation of injuries and death, photography, videography, interviews, evidence collection, records and reports reviews, statement analysis, and many other related services. Beers has lectured extensively and is a regular contributing editor to The Legal Investigator, a publication of the National Association of Legal Investigators.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Security / General
LAW / Criminal Law / General
LAW / Forensic Science