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Our Forensic Document Examiner Core Skill in becoming a forensic document analyst is forming an official letter of opinion – also known as a lab report.
This is a document outlining your conclusion to Forensic Document Examiner Core Skill in addition to demonstrative evidence of why it’s true.
Your Letter Of Opinion is read by a judge or jury and is used in the overall decision process of the court, and it’s your final deliverable. It’s a document that has important implications, both for the court’s outcome as well as for your professional career. Mistakes can kill.
If you make an error in your official letter or opinion, even your version one in a deposition or on trial, they’ll come back and ask you about it.
“Mr Jones you know, your letter says you had 17 documents. I only see 15 here. Did you make a typo?” “Yeah, I must’ve made a typo.” “Well, do you often make mistakes in your work?”
It’s happened to me, and it’s happened to almost every analyst out there.
And it’s not fun. Double-checking your work is a lot less painful than dealing with the backlash of a mistake. After all, you’re being paid for your letter, so it should be accurate and professional.
Since your written report is the primary product that you’re going to sell, how do you know how to price it?
There are a couple of options. You can price it by itself, or you can offer it in different formats, such as a verbal opinion, a short letter, or a long lab report of findings. You may have different pricing for federal cases versus local cases.
These are all things we get into within our school’s curriculum.
More videos to come. Just go here and see all 17 videos in the series.
Bart Baggett Founder of the International School of Forensic Document Examination
One of the key skills of a forensic document examiner is giving a deposition and testimony. As part of the school program, you will have lots of practice before you have to give a real testimony in front of a real judge.
The important thing here to understand is this: you are often going to be smarter than some of the attorneys relating to the topic of forensic document examination. So, you might have to help them form questions before you take the stand.
Yes, attorneys are smart in their own right, but in this field, you are the expert. That’s why you’re sitting where you’re sitting in the courtroom. And you’re the one who needs to move the conversation forward.
Since you’re in charge of what comes out of your mouth during both the deposition and testimony process, it’s your responsibility to make sure you are prepared and stay calm. You will also want to chat with your attorney about how to properly get your demonstrative exhibits entered into the curt record – otherwise, the jury won’t have access to review them when they go into their jury room to deliberate the verdict.
Having a clear understanding of the trial process, and specifically, the deposition and testimony will position you as a professional in the forensic analysis field.