Confronting the Complainant Before Trial

by Jamison Koehler on November 24, 2012

If you want to get a complainant to speak with you before trial, ask the complainant about his or her injury. People love to talk about how they have been wronged. The floodgate opens.

My investigator Wayne and I approach an interview with the complainant as if we are preparing for the Superbowl. After all, in some cases, you only get one shot.

Where possible, we like to do the interview together. We complement each other. It also gives me a witness if the complainant decides to change his story on the stand.

Sometimes Wayne takes the lead. Sometimes I do. It depends on the witness. We each have our strengths. For example, he is much better with thirty- to forty-year old women. They tend to try to flirt with him.  Actually, he is better with all the women.

We always explain who we are and what our role is, although, in a case with multiple clients, we do not necessarily identify who our client is. And the complainant never thinks to ask.

Although I am surprised anew each time it happens, the complainant will usually agree to speak with us.  This leads to that moment at trial at which the complainant sees where the cross-examination is headed – and I have to admit to just the slightest twinge of ambivalence here because we are people too — and you see that look in the witness’ eyes:  Anger.  Regret.  Then resignation.

More like this:

Ode to My Investigator

On “Constructive Venting” and Wayne My Investigator

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