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Chapter 23

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  • 1. The Final Report, Testifying in Court, and PIO Chapter 23 © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 2. Objectives• Describe the process of developing a final analysis and hypothesis• Describe the process of preparing and completing a final, accurate, and concise report• Describe the process of preparing and delivering a verbal report in the allotted time• Describe the process of preparing for court and testifying in a legal proceeding © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 3. Case Study• A judge gave the instruction that no one was to discuss this case in any form while they were sequestered• Before everyone had settled into their chairs two individuals started talking about their testimony• After their testimony, they were escorted to the hall adjacent to the courtroom, handcuffed, and led off for being in contempt of court © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 4. Introduction• The final report must contain all aspects of the facts surrounding the case – Every hypothesis must be included, even those discounted – Must be made available during the discovery portion of the trial• There may be an opportunity to provide public information on the findings of the investigation © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 5. Reports• Putting the report together requires a review of the entire file• Systematic nature of the investigation must be reflected in the report• Any information that needs corroborative evidence or documentation before going to trial needs to be documented• Review the report, and look for any discrepancies © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 6. Motive• Many times showing a motive is not necessary to get a conviction• If motive can be confirmed, then it should be in the report – Report should reflect the relative surety of the investigator’s opinion of the motive © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 7. Accidental Causes• Accidental cases deserve the same scrutiny as criminal cases• You are just as apt to end up in court over a civil issue as you are in a criminal case• Same attention to details and documentation is important © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 8. Final Report• Must accurately reflect the investigator’s findings• Must be concise• Must include the investigator’s expert opinion on fire area of origin, cause, and product or person responsible• Should be written so that it could be easily understood by the judge or jury © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 9. Verbal Report• This is something that should never happen in the government sector• In the insurance industry an investigator might just look at the scene to see if it warrants further investigation – When the scene looks accidental, the private sector investigator’s instructions may be to not write a report and move on © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 10. National Fire Incident Reporting System• In a perfect world, every fire department would submit reports• To not collect these data means incomplete national or state reports on fires – A case in point: a state that only has 50 percent of its departments submitting electronic reports only has half a picture of the fire problem © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 11. National Fire Incident Reporting System (cont’d.)• For those departments reporting to NFIRS, this is where the work of the first responder investigator can really pay off in the compiling of the data © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 12. Courtroom Preparation• Many things must be done prior to going to court – Pretrial meetings, creation of a multimedia presentation, and final review of the report• There may be very little time for the first court appearances if this is a criminal trial – Many states require an almost immediate hearing for setting bail – For most criminal proceedings, the prosecuting attorney will question the arresting officer © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 13. Curriculum Vitae• A curriculum vitae (CV) is nothing more than a detailed résumé – Should be thorough and complete with all your background information all classes you have taken as well as any state and national certifications – Awards that were specific to the job can be added as well – The last part of your CV should consist of a chronological list of every case where you had an opportunity to testify © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 14. Multimedia Presentations• Most new courthouses have built-in screens, projectors and computers• If photos are an important part of your case, also bring at least 5 x 7 prints © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 15. Attorney Conference• Most prosecuting offices are short of personnel and all too often short of time to get things done• The file must be reviewed in its entirety by the prosecuting attorney• The conference should cover all aspects• If this is an important trial, there may even be an opportunity for a pretrial run through on the testimony © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 16. Discovery• Opposing counsel should ask for copies of your report and anything to which you will be attesting to in court – As seekers of truth, you know this is not a bad thing and only fair• Prosecuting attorney will do the same with the defense experts, requesting all information that will be presented © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 17. Discovery (cont’d.)• There may be a request to answer interrogatories from opposing counsel – A list of questions that you must answer relating to the case – Always let the prosecuting attorney review the questions• Any reports, such as the forensic laboratory report, may be requested along with information about your expertise © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 18. Courtroom Testimony• Attire – The first responder investigator is usually an engine company officer and it may be best for him/her to be wearing the department dress uniform • Sends the accurate message that the investigator is a line officer – Assigned investigator can make a better impression if dressed in a suit and tie © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 19. Demeanor and Your Testimony• Process of when and how to testify can change from state to state – Example: taking an oath before the jury is seated or when you approach the witness stand• Investigator’s demeanor is a critical aspect of the testimony• Sequestered means that you will be separated from the trial and you will not hear what others say to assure it will not influence your testimony © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 20. Demeanor and Your Testimony (cont’d.)• When taking an oath, stand up straight, place your right arm out straight and at a right angle with palm facing forward – This may be the jury’s first impression of you as a professional © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 21. Demeanor and Your Testimony (cont’d.)• Go straight to the seat, but if you have not taken your oath, remain standing• Sit up straight; if addressed by the judge, acknowledge him or her• No matter who asks the questions, always look at that person while they are asking• When answering a question, look at the jury and occasionally at the judge © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 22. Demeanor and Your Testimony (cont’d.)• Show no emotion whatsoever toward the defendant• If for any reason, an attorney on either side should state that they object, say nothing more, but wait for the judge to decide• The process should be the prosecuting attorney asking you a series of questions – The opposing attorney will then ask you a series of questions © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 23. Public Information Officer• In many jurisdictions, the PIO may be the fire investigator – Larger departments may assign an administrative or line officer as the PIO• The PIO prepares written press releases for the media• Most of those working as PIOs want to give their own briefings to the press © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 24. Public Information Officer (cont’d.)• When working with the press, professional relationships may be forged – However, the press does not work for the fire department• A good PIO is vital to the success of the department – The primary and most important role is fire safety for the public © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning
  • 25. Summary• The investigator’s report must contain all facts pertinent to the case at hand• Finalizing the report is an opportunity to ensure that all avenues have been taken to secure all necessary information• Your case may culminate in court where you will testify as an expert witness• The overall goal of investigating a fire is to prevent future similar occurrences © 2009 Delmar, Cengage Learning

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