Complex Case Management Part 2: The Nightmare Begins
- To begin, let's recap - I previously tried to make a couple of points that I
felt were important.
Organization is ALWAYS worth the time it takes; the more complex the case,
the more important your organized approach. A competent paralegal with some
experience preparing for trial could share a lot of useful information with most
In pursuit of organization, we are going to embrace two concepts - relations,
and references. The relational aspects of our case information are those
that pertain to who did what to whom - when, where, why . . .
Investogators soon learn that it doesn't matter what they know, or think they
know, if they don't know why. Where did you hear that, how do we know that,
what makes you think that . . . you need to have the answer.
"Joe Blow called Mary's home number from his cell phone at 6:30 on April 4,
2002," can be meaningful. In fact, it could be life or death to your whole
case - but it doesn't mean squat if you don't know how we are going to prove it.
Did Joe tell you - did Mary? Did you find it in his cell toll records. Did
the feds have a pen register set up on her phone and you pal let you have the
record -- HOW DO WE KNOW THAT?
The referential aspect of our case information are those that serve as our
source material for the relational connections we make.
I suspect that this sounds more complicated than it is, and it may not sound
at all like what you read in some book. This didn't come from somebody's book.
Let's go back to the example I used earlier - as I used it for good reason.
Those who are even passingly familiar with the Bible know that a fellow named
David was reported to have killed a giant named Goliath with a stone from a
sling. All the attendant facts and circumstances are RELATIONAL - 1 Samuel 17
is the REFERENCE.
Imagine that someone were to take a Bible and remove/redact all the
references - no more Books, chapters, verses - or even page numbers. Then, they took a
paper cutter and removed the binding so there is nothing holding the pages
together and then . . . and I just know some of the paralegals out there see
this coming . . . they shuffle all the pages and throw them in a box and there
you have it -- your Bible related discovery!
If your laughing, just wait til I share with you the financial records I got
from BB&T Bank in response to a subpoena. A few of you have reviewed the end
result related to that case - when we get to that point, the rest of you will
see that it didn't make one iota of difference.
Let's talk [briefly] about the game that people play. Suppose I have a memo
that I have to turn over to you - like the one where my engineer got me upset
by telling me that my damn gas tanks were likely to blow up if my vehicles
were hit hard in the rear. I have to give you that - and I also have to give you
the one where my lawyer and financial guys got together and concluded that
when you take the number of people likely to get roasted, and multiply that
times the average jury verdict you can expect in the worst case scenario were the
single mom of three dies horribly while trapped in a burning inferno . . .
and the math says that even in the worst case scenario, it would cost us ten
times that amount to recall all those cars and fix the problem.
What do you expect from me - two memos in an envelope neatly bate stamped
Memo#1 Pages 001-003, and Memo#2 Pages 001-006? Not very likely.
I'm going to give you EVERYTHING - "Whoa there Dude, is that a lunch memo
with a scribbled note on it . . . give it here for my discovery package - lemme
see, that would be bate stamp 0967520. Just a few more pages - you
secretaries got any nice chatty e-mails - and pretty soon, we'll have an even million
Why? I'll tell you exactly why. If things break badly for me, and word of
that memo leaks out, I need to be able to say, "Yes Your Honor, that memo was
included at bate stamp 0072356 thru 0072362."
That really happens, albeit rarely. In most cases, your not going to be
dealing with a blizzard for blizzard sake, but getting reasonable discovery in a
major case can be almost that bad.
So, what do you do with the Bible, when the only copy in the whole world is
delivered to you as shuffled up pages with no cites? Well, it's simple - you
just feed the pages into a computer and let it sort the whole thing out for you
. . . or maybe you just turn all those pages back over to the attorney
involved and tell him that the paperwork is his problem.
No. It may come one day, but so far as I know, there is no such thing as a
computer that can think - and I suppose that's a good thing because when and if
they do, the damn thing will probably out think us all.
So let me divest you of any misconceptions you may have -- the paperwork is
your problem, and you are not only going to read every page of it, you are
going to SCRUTINIZE every page of it. What we are talking about here today is,
how do you do that as effectively as possible and master what you learn as you
OK, so we have this pile of pages and we need to make sense out of it - and
in this worst case scenario, there really isn't any good way to sort it. So
what? Let's think a little "outside the box" here - why do we need to sort it?
I didn't say any pages were missing. I didn't say anything had been erased
or re written - it's all right there just as it always was. Follow along with
[Editorial Note - do not get me wrong, given bank records, toll records, or
any other sortable thing, we will definitely sort it first. Sorting is a good
thing - but not a necessary thing if it isn't possible.]
I'm going to approach this just like cleaning out that garage. I'm going to
get my wonderfully professional looking black and silver banker's box with
those nifty locks and built in file rails, and set it on one side of me - empty.
Then I'm going to set the full box on the other side and pull out the very
first page that I come to. I am going to mark that page #1 - or 00001 to be
Did the word "Reference" pop into your mind?
Although I don't know it - and don't need to know it - you guys get to know
that the page I pulled out is actually the page that has 1Samuel 17 on it. I
tell you that as it might be useful for you to follow along.
Now focus with me - this is important.
1. ALL the relational facts, issues and circumstances that you have in front
of you are right here in front of me.
2. I am not hampered by the lack of the cite as a reference - mine works as
good as yours does. I can come right back to my page 00001 as easy as you can
find 1 Samuel 17.
For this example, I am going to use a pencil and paper and construct a simple
database of three columns - and I do hope this doesn't get garbled in sending
DATE EVENT REFERENCE
_____ _______________________ ___________
If it scrambled it, just picture three columns: a short column for the date,
a longer one for the event I want to make note of and a short one for my
Then, I am going to write:
________ The Philistines gathered their army at Socoh in Judah 00001
________ The Philistine army camped at Ephes Dammim 00001
________ Ephes Dammim was between Socoh and Azekah 00001
[Skip nothing - but I'm moving on for the sake of expediency]
________ Goliath was a Philistine from Gath
________ Goliath was more than 9 feet tall and his armor
weighed about 125 pounds.
________ Goliath taunted the Israelites every day/nite for 40 days
________ David was the son of Jesse, an Ephrathite
________ David was a shepherd, the youngest of his father's sons
_________ David was annoyed by Goliath and volunteered to fight him
Now, I would respectfully inquire of those who profess to be Christians and
Jews amongst us, or anyone else believing themselves to know this story - you
didn't know these details did you? You thought you knew this story - most of
you anyway - but you didn't know these details.
In other words, the point I'm trying to make is that any Godless heathen with
thirty minutes on his hands, an organized approach, and a pencil and paper
could testify before a church/synagogue and teach most of those in attendance a
good bit about their own beloved Book.
It's late and I'm running out of time, but it is my intention to get us out
of the realm of concept and theory so we can, "get down to cases." If you
don't fully grasp the points I have tried to make thus far, I urge you to read
thru them again.
I promise you that in anything but the simplist of cases, this approach will
be good for you.
Now, moving on to real Case Management. Here's what you have:
Phone toll records for three phones: Joe Blow 919 555-1212; Jane Doe 404
555-1212, and Richard Rowe 305 555-1212 and you have them all responsive to your
subpoena, for their respective billing periods, between 01/01/1998 and
Now, a seque to something useful - what do i mean by, "for the billing
period?" ALWAYS subpoena phone records "For the Billing Period" covering the time
period you are asking for. They cannot give you what isn't covered in the
subpoena so what do you expect the phone company to do if their billing periods go
from the 15th to the 15th - do you think they have time to redact all the
records you didn't request?
OK, moving on, you have bank records for these people as well - Joe Blow
Checking Account # 11111111111, Savings 2222222222; Jane Doe Checking Account #
121212121212, Savings 2323232323232; and Richard Row Checking Account
444444444444444, Savings 555555555555 all of which are at BB&T Bank. You have the
account statements, instruments and offsets.
You have Transcripts of Depositions from all these people - each one is 100
You have a DBT Choice Point Profile on each person - each is 50 pages long
You have 27 News articles about these people
You have Corporate Records including Articles, Amendments and Annual Reports
on 9 corporations involved in this case
You have copies of the pleadings in your case thus far
You have copies of the Complaints, Answers and Final Orders in 5 prior cases
involving these people - jointly, individually, or i some combination.
You will get whatever else you need along the way.
Now, it is after 4AM and I have spent a good bit of time on this - I do hope
at least a few of you will go to the trouble to sit down and think about what
you are going to do with all this stuff, and where you are going to go from
No reply necessary or expected - just sit down, picture this pile of stuff,
and ask yourself what you are going to do, how - and in what order?
I apologize for typos - I gotta get to bed.
Til next time.
Bill E. Branscum, Investigator
PO Box 10728
Naples, FL 34101
(239) 304-1640 Fax
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