There are a lot of details to be discussed during a forensic investigation. Details like test results, trial strategy, discovery deadlines, opposing expert reports, and deposition details to name a few. A forensic expert must communicate well with everyone on the litigation team during a forensic investigation so they understand the scientific results and how those results impact the case.
It is convenient and efficient for experts to communicate forensic investigation processes, procedures, and results on the phone. However, to save time and accommodate busy schedules, we also communicate with text and email. The important thing to remember about text and email is that unlike telephone conversations, they have permanency. Email and text messages can be shared with other people and are discoverable.
Before beginning any forensic investigation, we always ask our client-attorney for their preferred method of communication. This is a best practice for us for many reasons. First, many of our client attorneys spend a lot of time in court. We do our best to communicate effectively and accommodate their schedule. Many times we provide a cell number to them so they can communicate with us at their convenience. Depending on the state or country, attorneys advise us how to or not to communicate, especially when it comes to text and email messages. Some client attorneys do not want any written communication. Rather they want all forensic investigation communication delivered verbally.
Written communication like text and email messages are good because when communication is in writing, it documents the events and has permanency. You can call this an intentional paper trail that is available for reference throughout the investigation process. What is important and our goal in writing this article is to help you understand that written communication is not as private as verbal communication. Opposing attorneys can ask for all written communication to be available for review during the deposition process or at trial. Our client attorneys decide what form of communication is best and we respect that decision.
More Communication is Best
We have found that most of our client-attorneys want to hear from forensic experts as often as necessary during a forensic investigation because scientific test results have an impact on trial strategy. However, over-communicating has the opposite effect. Too many interruptions and delivery of incomplete information can be confusing and should be avoided. As a general rule, it’s best to keep the forensic investigation as clean and free from superfluous communication as possible.
The bottom line, from a forensic expert’s perspective, understand your client-attorney’s expectations about communication and be aware that anything in written form can become part of the litigation process. For the most part, keep your forensic investigation communication to verbal.