by Jamison Koehler on March 21, 2021
I have a new investigator. His name in Robert Kapler. He says I can call him Bob.
Bob is on the panel of investigators eligible to work on court-appointed cases. I have also brought him in on our first retained case.
My former investigator Wayne and I were both starting out at the same time, and it was fun to figure things out together.
Bob, by contrast, is further along in his career. He has done things I have not: murder cases, for example.
I suspect I will get more out of our partnership than he.
Although Bob came highly recommended, this is rare. Many of my colleagues complain about their investigator. When they find one they like, they do not want to share.
One attorney refused to divulge the contact information for his investigator. He was afraid I would steal her from him.
And this was a friend.
The investigators at the public defender in Philadelphia were awful.
Part of the problem is that, because of the horizontal system of representation there, you were never dealing with the same investigator. It was hard to develop a working relationship at all, much less a healthy one.
One time I sent an investigator to photograph the front of a store that was involved in a drug case.
Officers described events going on inside the store from an “observation post” outside. The question was whether they could observe what they claimed they saw.
The investigator returned with photos of a shuttered storefront.
This kind of misses the point of my request, I pointed out. I put this as delicately as possible.
That’s right, the investigator replied. It was after hours. The store was closed when I got there.
Another problem is that most of the investigators were former police officers. This must be a good thing, I exclaimed when I first heard this. No one knows the city like a police officer.
Maybe so, replied the colleague who was telling me this. But they really don’t like our clients.
Bob likes our clients.
He doesn’t specifically say this. But I can tell by the way he talks about them: He respects them.
Bob also tends to believe our clients. Like me, he is a tad bit gullible. This is rare in our line of business. Sometimes it is a good thing.
Bob moves very quickly. This is important. Evidence disappears. People forget things. You have to interview cooperating witnesses before they change their minds.
Bob writes me detailed notes on his progress. He is a good writer. I am not surprised when I find out he used to be a journalist. Journalists are also nosy and thorough.
Bob’s updates are essential. They relieve that vague feeling I often have of things left undone. The updates help me sleep at night.
Bob knows what he is doing. He asks questions. He challenges me. We talk daily, bouncing ideas off of each other. He is going to make me a better lawyer.
I have not yet met Bob in person. Ours is a recent relationship, one that was born during the pandemic. So far all of our dealings have been over the phone.
The only way I know what Bob looks is from a photograph of Bob the prosecutor sends me. The photo was taken by one of the government’s witnesses.
Bob and I laugh about this. He is on public property. He is doing his job. Our client has the right to defend himself.