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Archive for the ‘Forensic Expert’ Category

8: How to Give an Expert Deposition

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

8: How to Give an Expert DepositionAn Expert Deposition is one of the most important activities performed by forensic experts, second only to the final testimony.  A deposition is the process where the opposing lawyers question the forensic expert, under oath, about what they are going to testify during trial.  These questions are designed for the opposing lawyer to gain information about the investigation that the forensic expert performed, to learn what the expert would testify about in court.

Just like testifying in court, it is very important for the forensic expert to prepare beforehand for the deposition.  Carefully sifting through his or her investigation with a fine tooth comb, and reviewing all investigative notes can make a large difference on their success when being deposed.  The forensic expert should also work with their client lawyer directly to learn what information the opposing lawyer will be most interested in and how to properly express their answers.

Ten Tips for Giving a Good Deposition

  1. The forensic expert should dress professionally.  I always wear a suit and tie when being deposed.
  2. The expert should only answer the questions that are asked.  They should avoid elaborating too much on their answers in order to avoid giving away too much information.
  3. The forensic expert should always prepare with their client lawyer.  The lawyer will always know more about the case and what information should be shared.
  4. The expert should be aware of anyone attending the deposition remotely and make sure to make eye contact with him or her through the camera being used in the system.
  5. The forensic expert should speak clearly so the court reporter can accurately type everything they say during the deposition.  Sitting close to the court reporter if possible can greatly help.
  6. The expert should always obtain a copy of the transcript to make sure all of the information is accurate.
  7. The expert should arrive early to the deposition.  They may not know the location well and allowing extra time can save the expert from being late.
  8. The expert should bring a current copy of their curriculum vitae to make sure that it is presented as part of the deposition.
  9. The expert should have all of their notes ready in front of them as well as their forensic report.  Any evidence that needs to be presented should be ready as well.  If evidence needs to be presented from a computer, the expert should make sure that it is working properly beforehand.
  10. Finally, the forensic expert should practice their deposition.  Even beyond rehearsing with their client lawyer, the expert should go through all of their notes and reports prior to being deposed.  They should spend time the night before double-checking all of their information to ensure they are ready for the deposition.  More often than not, this can make a difference in the deposition.

Listen in with Audio and Video Forensic Expert Ed Primeau as he discusses how to properly prepare for and give a good deposition.

6: Continuing Education as a Forensic Expert

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

6: Continuing Education as a Forensic ExpertAs a forensic expert, continuing your education in your field of expertise is extremely important in remaining a credible forensic expert.  I practice audio and video forensic work and at the rate that technology is evolving, it’s important for me to stay up to date on all of the latest advancements in the field. This is not exclusive to digital media forensics.  New developments are made in all areas of expertise.  Being an expert witness requires you to have current and accurate knowledge in your field of expertise.

When an expert witness is first called to the stand in a courtroom, their client lawyer will begin with the direct examination.  During this, the lawyer will ask questions that establish the expert witness’s qualifications and credentials.  After the direct examination, the opposing prosecutor or attorney will question the witness and challenge them as an expert witness.  The more experience and credentials you have in your field, the harder it becomes for the opposing attorney to disqualify you as an expert witness. Certifications and diplomas are documented proof of your relevance and credibility as an expert in your field.

Get involved in organizations related to your field.

I am a member of the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute and am on the advisory board of Recorded Evidence.  We help determine the qualifications for Audio Forensic Experts and are currently updating the test to become certified.  It is extremely important be forward thinking when managing your career as a forensic expert.  Its not enough to be status quo when you are a forensic expert. You have to have the most accurate and up to date knowledge and be able to apply that knowledge to remain a credible forensic expert.

Now listen in with Audio and Video Forensic Expert Ed Primeau as he discusses the importance of continuing your education in your field as a forensic expert.

Establishing a Chain of Custody for Audio and Video Evidence

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Establishing a Chain of Custody for Audio and Video EvidenceAs an experienced audio and video forensic expert, I am very focused on establishing a chain of custody for audio and video evidence.

My job is to offer an authoritative analysis of electronic evidence, introduced in the form of audio or video recordings. The content of my testimony is twofold, interpretation and authentication. I interpret and clarify the recordings, and I authenticate the identity of those individuals seen and heard. But I must also authenticate the evidence as evidence. Has this recording been tampered with? Is the recording I examined the original or a copy? Through whose hands has this recording passed before and after it reached me? Where and how has it been stored?

The answers to these questions may determine the admissibility of the electronic evidence, and ultimately, whether a defendant is found guilty or innocent. Establishing and maintaining an unbroken chain of custody is vital. Without it, the evidence and my testimony, no matter its probative value, may be successfully challenged and ruled inadmissible. According to the online IT Law Wikia, chain of custody is defined as “a process that tracks the movement of evidence through its collection, safeguarding, and analysis lifecycle by documenting each person who handled the evidence, the date/time it was collected or transferred, and the purpose for the transfer.”

I always make a video recording of my process/investigation when I retrieve evidence. For example, if the video evidence is on a digital video recorder, I travel to the DVR and personally retrieve the evidence myself. The video I record of my retrieval process effectively establishes a chain of custody. Of course, I follow the same procedure when I personally retrieve an audio recording.

However, there are many instances where I obtain evidence from lawyers who, in turn, receive recordings from the police. Whenever I do not retrieve the evidence personally, I must carefully read the reports, depositions, and related documents that accompany the evidence I receive. This paper trail must support the construction of a timeline, an unbroken, chronological listing that accounts for the seizure, custody, transfer, storage, and condition of the evidence. The timeline must be free of any gaps, periods of time during which the exact custody and location of the evidence cannot be accounted for. A weak link in the chain of custody can easily overturn a conviction on appeal, so I am always prepared for chain of custody questions when I testify.

A typical chain of custody form includes blank text fields that allow for the entry of the following: Case Name and Number, Type of Evidence, Evidence Initially Procured (Where, By Whom, Date & Time), Manufacturer and Serial Number of Media Device and/or Media, and a table listing Evidence Inventoried By (Name, Date, Time, ID), Evidence Released By (Name, Date, Time), and Evidence Received By (Name, Date, Time).

As I mentioned earlier, there are actually two chains of custody when considering electronic evidence: the physical recording itself and the data it holds. With the proliferation of home computers capable of desktop audio and video editing, there has been an increasing incidence of tampering with recordings before they are collected as evidence. I can usually spot recordings that have been altered very quickly, once I begin my electronic analysis.

Slowly gaining acceptance with law enforcement, security companies, and the legal community are online services that maintain and track the chain of custody of electronic evidence, which is stored in the cloud. Particularly useful for the archiving and storage of video from body cams, vehicle cameras, and surveillance cameras, these services hope to modernize the handling of electronic evidence by eliminating the repeated transference of physical evidence, maintaining standardized security procedures, and providing easy access to the content of electronic recordings.

Forensic Experts Are Worth The Investment

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Forensic Experts Are Worth The InvestmentForensic experts are worth the investment when the evidence is misunderstood. When introducing a new litigator to audio and video forensics, I like to use the analogy of car repair. You can have your car repaired by a corner or back yard mechanic that charges forty dollars an hour. It might take that back yard mechanic ten hours to fix the problem. OR, you can take your car to the dealership which charges seventy five dollars an hour and have it repaired in two hours. The difference is in the experience and credibility. The dealership will also take the time and explain what needs to be repaired and provide options and an understanding of the repair process. The dealership’s experience with and knowledge of that make and model of the car saves them time making the repair and helps you the customer better understand the nature of the problem.

The same is true regarding a forensic expert. Forensic experts have experience with each forensic academic and can save litigators time and money when it comes to understanding forensic evidence and investigations.
Primeau Forensics is a vehicle for you to get answers to the questions you have about your multi-media evidence that is being used in litigation. As an audio and video forensic expert, I often find that courts, lawyers, and litigators get confused as to the purpose and the validity of their forensic evidence—which is where we help. Today there are dozens of CCTV digital video formats and audio recordings everywhere that contribute to evidence. That information needs to be simplified and better understood by courts and litigators.

Primeau Forensics is a growing forensic organization. It will soon include Internet forensics, security forensics, cell phone forensics, smart phone forensics, and other related multi-media forensic services. Audio and video is being recorded everywhere, not just CCTV (closed on circuit television systems) and police car dash cameras. Audio and video is used more today in litigation than ever before. Knowing some simple facts about your audio and video evidence from a forensic perspective is extremely important to you and the decision makers. Primeau Forensics is here to help. We welcome any questions, comments or feedback either by email– primeauforensics@gmail.com or by phone–(800) 647-4281.

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Abc Def
20:32 03 Dec 18
Primeau Forensics is a professional, top-flight organization that knows how to access and deliver verifiable forensics information quickly, efficiently and productively. Don't let their cheerful, friendly attitude make you think they are not on top of their game--they are!read more
dan schulte
18:35 12 Dec 18
I received credentials from two technicians, then a third person ended up doing all the work and kept in touch with me by e-mail. I never saw any proof that the work was done and they told me they found nothing. They could not tell me what was making the noise or the lights. A waste of $750.00.read more
Teresa Galyon
16:13 13 Dec 18
Excellent work. Primeau took a low light camera recording of vandalism at my home and converted the video to images that we used to identity the vandals. Additionally, Primeau was able to identify characteristics of the vandals car that were used for a positive identification. Services were efficient, timely, and professionalread more
Todd Conte
15:18 27 Aug 18
Ed and his team are great! I took in footage of my boyfriends dog being stolen and they were so willing to take every step possible to enhance the video to retrieve the information we needed. The resolution on our camera/video wasn't great (our fault, not theirs) and they were unable to get the information we needed BUT they guided me in the next steps to take. Thank you guys!!read more
Anita Tela
12:47 23 Oct 17
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