A paralegal’s investigation of all facts, previous judicial outcomes, and evidence is crucial in streamlining an appropriate strategy and pinpointing the legal matter in question.
During the investigation process a paralegal will interview an assortment of witnesses. As each witness is interviewed during the extension of the investigation, a paralegal will be enlightened to the intricacies and details of the case. While each witness is being interviewed a proper statement must be constructed to document the findings or opinions of the particular witness.
Following the conclusion of the interview a paralegal must create a memo or statement to provide an overview or summary of the information exchanged. Lawyers are often times too busy to conduct interviews with witnesses, they rely on the paralegal to assist in this role.
The paralegal must provide the supervising attorney with a witness statement to bridge the absence and streamline the investigation process. As a result of the supervising attorney’s absence in the interview process, the witness statement will provide a concise review of all the necessary information, statements, and findings from the questioning.
A witness statement is a formally written legal document which paraphrases what the witness said during the interview. The witness statement must include a thorough evaluation of all facts relevant to the case.
In addition, the witnesses credibility or lack thereof must be documented. In order to satisfy the competency requirements a paralegal will subdivide the witness into different categories.
There are many classifications of witnesses, each group contains necessary obligations in regards to the individual’s presence in the legal matter or his or her expertise. For instance, an expert witness will prove competent if he/she reveals a certain knowledge for the matter in question.
Choosing an expert witness is a painstakingly detailed process. The appropriate expert witness must not only possess a general knowledge of the background information involved in the case, but a specific understanding for the varying complexities present.
Choosing and evaluating an expert witness based off an investigation is an arduous task, the paralegal must understand the background and general matters involved in the matter.
In contrast, the competency test for a lay witness is more exact. A lay witness will be marked as “competent and usable” in a witness statement if the individual actually saw, heard, or perceived the events of the issue in someway.
During the investigation the paralegal must undoubtedly conclude that the lay witness was in fact present during the incident. After the witness is proved competent the paralegal must also denote the whether or not the individual is credible. Credibility will arise simply from the questions during the investigation.
The credibility of a witness will be up to the paralegal to decide, based on his/her findings. Along with the credibility and competency of the witness the paralegal also must document any substantial non-verbal communication during the interview. Non-verbal communication includes any emotions, nervous ticks, “tells”, smiles, or seemingly anything that will make the paralegal believe that the witness is biased, prejudiced, or supplying misinformation.
The witness statement exemplifies the importance of the paralegal. Although it is a simple reporting of facts from an interview the witness statement will provide the lawyer with invaluable information relevant to the case.
The paralegal acts as the eyes, ears, and mind of a lawyer when he/she is consumed with a busy schedule. The paralegal is the bridge that connects crucial information and legal matters to a lawyer, without a legal assistant, the supervising lawyer would be overwhelmed with the detailed investigation process required.