We rely on competent investigation to avoid or solve all problems in a world where justice counts, criminal law especially.
Justice and morality are fundamental human rights as well as duties. No legitimate government or agency can deny these and retain legitimacy.
Competent investigation, with integrity to the truth, the objective truth, not just some political idea of required truth is essential.
Failure to properly ascertain objective truth often results in a miscarriage of justice, meaning a result that is false, unjust and immoral.
Proper investigation with integrity to the truth is thus a fundamental human right.
This site explores and discusses the ins-and-outs of what competent investigation means, citing the basic elements, three moral and three substantive, as well as the way we evade the requirements, far too often.
After we mistakenly shot up a hospital in Afghanistan killing many Doctors Without Borders and patients, October, 2015, Pres. Obama called the president of the organization, apologized on behalf of the United States, and assured her of a thorough and "transparent" investigation.
Investigation must be conducted competently, that is with integrity as well as skill, or it is immoral and unreliable.
We have far too many false convictions, raising the question: What was wrong with the first investigation that the second, which produced the exoneration, got right?
The FBI has profilers who study serial killers.
Why don't FBI profilers study how it is that we have so many false convictions?
This site represents a start.
There's a lot more work to be done.
Obtaining a competent investigation is easier said than done.
Some of us don't always want to know the inconvenient truth.
It may challenge our comforting preconceptions.
But let's say that integrity rules and we do want to know the truth, however difficult to accept.
In this case, always, one may hope, we need to know what to look for, put the findings in context, and then how to present our findings effectively where it counts.
That is what this site is about.
We've reorganized investigation in a way you may not have seen before since we've reanalyzed the subject from the ground up as an original project.
It is from the standpoint of a trial attorney with long experience as a prosecuting and defense attorney, as well as professor of Constitutional Law, San Francisco Law School, 2002-2005.
First, let's relate competent investigation to proper trial, graphically:
First we discuss competent investigation, represented by the ship model, below, and then we discuss the graphic image of the Greek temple, as an organizing tool to focus on any errors of investigation, at trial.
We're providing tools to put the investigation itself on trial.
Don't hesitate to create images you find more suitable in your case.
On this site, the Overview explains the sailing ship model illustration components:
Q-1: LOOK-IN [the one we skip first]
Q-2: LOOK OUT
Overview also brings you to the list of categories in the column to the right; each post contains links at bottom to other, related, posts.
About the subject, Forensic Investigation.
About the author, Robert Sheridan, attorney, San Francisco, California.
I Owe You A Lunch: Tipping off detective results in client exoneration using points made here.
Three Spankings A Day: Recent example of successful application of points made, The Investigation Project
We like to think of America as having been founded on principles that we can admire.
We got off to a very mixed start.
Tragic, some would say.
Evil, say others, i.e. morally wrong to a very large degree.
And have been paying to make the necessary corrections ever since.
The cost of the U.S. Civil War, for example, was measured in lives. 600,000, more or less. Americans on Americans.
Sometimes we get out of sync with ourselves.
Our job, as Americans, is to work to improve matters.
The morality of investigation is what we address here.
Improving that would be a major contribution.
Our goal is: Competent investigation, conducted with integrity.
The person who formulated that was Richard P. Feynman, an American physicist.
He defined "integrity" in investigation as "leaning over backwards to show how you might be wrong." Cargo Cult Science, last chapter, Surely You're Joking.... He was addressing the Caltech graduates, 1974.
Above is an image of "America," the U.S. entry to the first of the America's Cup yacht races.
The reason I chose this image is because, in addition to flying the flag symbolizing our democracy, which we regard as important enough of a principle that we invade other countries on the basis of it, or at least we say we do, is that it has three major sails, a rudder, a hull, and a keel to keep not only afloat, but upright and moving ahead.
It seems only fitting, as a result, that we look clearly at ourselves to see whether we live up to the principles that we insist others live by.
This is a tough proposition, but if we ask our young men and women to fight for America, symbolized not just by the American flag, but by the American Constitution and the American military, we need to keep our eye on the American ball, not the easiest thing to do in a complex world.
I suggest that a decent way to do this is to focus on the concept of investigation, the basis of most of what we do.
ELEMENTS OF INVESTIGATING THE INVESTIGATION:
Six Elements of Investigation At a Glance:
Two basic elements are presented on this site:
(1) Elements of investigation:
Additional entries also appear, such as on the categories of errors commonly met and a chart of the manias seen in the more horrifying cases we've seen historically and in modern times.
(2) Effective presentation:
Having identified the problems of the investigation in which you are interested, how best to present them in the context not only of the above but in terms of the legal principles which govern, by law, the decision-making process, i.e., trial in a court of law, not ignoring public interest and accurate reporting in the media. Hence the Greek Temple illustrative model.
Illustrations help show relationships.
Absent a conceptual framework showing the elements of investigation, such as the ship model, you can point to examples of improper investigation leading to unjust results; with it, you can relate any such failures to our most important values and assumptions going back to biblical days, thus providing the moral force of our entire civilization and culture to your position, while either sparing a few words or providing fuel for even more.
Examples of the need for competent investigation are found in the earliest written works of Western Civilization, some say the word of God himself:
(1) God's commandment "Thou shall not bear false witness."
(2) Solomon as judge using the investigative stratagem of threatening to cut the baby in half as a way to identify the true mother in the famous contested child-custody case, and
(3) Susanna's case, where Daniel uses another investigative technique, separately questioning the witnesses, to cross them up and show that they lied to obtain her condemnation to death for adultery for nefarious reasons of their own, i.e. to extort her into sleeping with them by threatening to accuse her of adultery, which they do when she refuses.
Having claimed together that they had seen her lying with another man, not her husband under a tree in the garden where she bathed in a pool, Daniel asks each, separately, "Which tree?"
One false witness says that the tree was the oak and the other the myrtle.
End of case.
A lesson in more competent investigation.
A lesson in morality.
These are biblical versions of "I Owe You A Lunch"].
RESULT OF INVESTIGATIVE FAILURE
The failure to analyze and present effectively may give you a result like this:
Noted author Stacy Schiff has described the Salem experience in the New Yorker Magazine, Sept. 7, 2015, in The Witches of Salem, Diabolical Doings in a Puritan Village.
Letters to the editor of the NYer from several descendants of women hanged as witches in Salem appear in the October 12, 2015 edition.
(Subscription may be required.)
NAVIGATING THIS SITE
The site opens with the present page, called the "Landing" page containing links to the subject, the author and "I Owe You A Lunch," a personal example of a competent, uncorrupted, investigation, if you don't mind a little deception to arrive at the truth.
We authorize police to use deception to fight crime, i.e. it's legal for detectives to deceive suspects into telling the truth.
Are they allowed to deceive accusers into telling the truth, as well as suspects?
I suggest that they are, on the theory that determining the truth is a greater value than always telling the truth.
The posts appear from time to time.
The Featured post explains the theory of our discussion in more detail than the Landing Page. It is said to remain at the top of the posts which otherwise appear in the order posted, i.e. chronologically, to provide an overview.
Each post contains links at the bottom to other posts generally listed in the "Category" roll to the right when a post is displayed.
The "Category" column to the right lists a variety of the subjects of posts, each of which contains links to other posts.
Certain examples of faulty investigation serve as teaching models, so we refer to them often, such as Salem, 1692, the witch-hunt in America, before the U.S. was established, that killed nineteen people before..."Oops, sorry, our bad" and further trials were called off.
The fear elements that caused this outbreak of mania have not changed over time, nor the reasoning that went into the many prosecutions, so Salem makes a perfect example of the error category, "Mania," which applies as much today as it did then. See the internments of the AJA's, the McCarthy Era, and the way we are tempted to react to the threat of terrorists, until cooler heads prevail, if they prevail.
Torture and indefinite detentions cause us to question that.
We are able to justify terrible behavior to ourselves as long as we can cite a proper justification, such as saving ourselves.
This is a moral question.
The fear is real.
The actual threat level, if any, is open to discussion.
Sometimes we over-react.
We may be intelligent, educated, principled and reasoned people, but fear permeates all that we do concerning matters of the highest importance.
Control fear and one may be able to control reason.
Seek out cooler heads.
Also in the right-column are black labeled entries above "Categories" called "Typelists." These are selected subjects chosen to make it easier to jump right into important areas.
The important contribution here is the organization to aid in analyzing for the flaws of corrupted investigations and then presenting the analysis in a way that we hope appeals to the sense of reason of your audience.
It took a long time to recognize the relationships presented and then to imagine the illustrations used to simplify the discussion, i.e. the ship "USS Integrity" and the Greek Temple, a hall of justice as well as reason.
Feel free to use these or come up with your own.
Kindly advise if you come up with better ways to explain the complex subject of determining an accusation to be false, an investigation corrupted, and presenting these facts to whoever needs to be persuaded that this is so.
There is so much literature and true-life example of such that I thought it useful to try to boil a few things down into their simplest elements, hence the ship, the temple, the error category lists, the mania chart, and the flip between True Investigation (TI) and Case-Building (CB).
And there's Richard P. Feynman's First Principle that we must not fool ourselves, along with his warning that we are, of course, the easiest people to fool.
And finally, the word that wisdom is not an end state, but the process of learning what not to believe.
That's what this site is about; sorry for the repetition and cumbersomeness; we continue to work on the latter.
Comments will be moderated; some might be published.
Contact me using the "Email me" box in the right column.
And happy sailing.