Tag Archives: client

Interesting New Case

Much of the time and investigator grinds out the day-to-day work involved in personal injury cases and the like.  Sometimes a really interesting and high-profile case comes in and you just feel the adrenaline start pumping.

That happened yesterday, when I was contacted by Mark Reichel and Steve Plesser of Reichel & Plesser Law (www.reichelplesser.com) to be the investigator in the very tragic stabbing death of 12-year-old Leila Fowler of Valley Springs, California.

For those who have not heard of this case, the violent death of eight year old Leila took place in her home on April 27 of this year.  The only other person at home at the time of her stabbing was her 12-year-old brother.  Her brother called Leila’s father and girlfriend who were attending a Little League baseball game at the time to tell them he saw a man hitting his sister and that he scared the stranger from the house.

When Leila’s father and girlfriend arrived at the house, followed shortly thereafter by the local police, Leila was found still bleeding from 21 stab wounds.  Based an a vague description of the alleged attacker, the area was locked down and search commenced.  The small community situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada between Sacramento and Stockton was on high alert.

On Saturday May 10, authorities arrested Leila’s 12-year-old brother and charge him with the murder of his sister.  On Wednesday, May 13, Mark Reichel and Steve Plesser (www.reichelplesser.com) were retained to represent the defendant and I was asked to come on board as their investigator.

This is a very high-profile case, but the nature of my job is no different from it is in any case.  Attorneys don’t like surprises.  Litigation is a minefield of surprises and my job is to clear the mines.  It doesn’t matter if the information I uncover helps or hurts our client’s case.  What matters is that it doesn’t come as mine that Reichel and/or Plesser step on at trial.

This case appears to be a very large minefield and there is a lot of work to be done.

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Pulling a Paul Drake

Back in the days of black and white television one of the biggest hits on the tube was Perry Mason.   Based on the character introduced in the the novels written by Erle Stanley Gardner, Raymond Burr played undefeated (or at least it seemed that way) attorney Perry Mason.  He was assisted by his dashing private investigator Paul Drake (played by William Hopper.)

It was a 30 minute show and as a general rule the show ended with Perry breaking down a key witness through brilliant cross-examination or Paul Drake would peek in through the courtroom doors with a missing witness or other key piece of evidence in hand.  Perry would ask for a brief recess and the Paul would cruise down the aisle to the front of the court and present Perry with goods that would turn the case in his client’s favor.

To me, that is “pulling a Paul Drake.”  I have always wanted to show up in some courthouse with the that key witness or other evidence that will blow the case wide open.  I’ve come close, but I’ve never had a moment that dramatic in my career.  In fact, it is unlikely that I ever will.  Modern rules of discovery mean that all the digging for evidence should be done before the parties go in the courtroom.  Therefore, it is highly unlikely that anything of a last-minute nature would get before a trier of fact (jury or judge.)

Just the same, when I do find some really good nugget that goes a long way toward helping my client’s case, I think about peeking in the courtroom, getting my client’s attention and then “pulling a Paul Drake.”

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