Dean A. Beers, a respected and admired Certified Legal Investigator (CLI), has authored a comprehensive guidebook and reference manual for both the aspiring legal investigator and the veteran professional. Practical Methods for Legal Investigations – Concepts and Protocols in Civil and Criminal Cases is an information packed, all inclusive “Legal Investigator’s manual” providing a thorough understanding of the knowledge, skills and practices required in order to become the successful, highly valued investigator on any legal team. Mr. Beers shares with us the education, training and experience of his over 20 years in the field of investigative work, including his years spent as a forensic autopsy assistant, a death investigator and, first and foremost, a most valued attorney’s assistant. He has spent his years in cases involving civil negligence and criminal defense and his passion for his work is both timeless and tireless. Although he refers to his book, Legal Investigations, as a “compliment” to the many other fine materials in publication, I couldn’t really disagree with him more on this point. On the contrary, I would go so far as to say that:
Legal Investigations should be a “must-read” for every new investigator making his or her way into criminal defense and civil negligence matters.
To begin, Mr. Beers outlines in clear and concise detail the entire process of the role of the investigator from the initial intake of an assignment, through a discussion of each of the steps to be taken during the course of the investigation and then takes the investigator on into the successful conclusion of the matter by his/her handing over a well written report to the client. The most important point that Mr. Beers initially makes is that the professional investigator is a fact finder; one without bias, prejudice or investment in the outcome. These facts are then left up to lawyers and triers-of-fact to dissect and arrive at their own outcome. Legal investigations in particular usually incorporate information culled from scene investigations, witness interviews and a gathering of the forensic facts.
Legal Investigations is broken down into three basic sections.
The first section comprises the concepts of an investigation, e.g., the role of the investigator in a case as well as the absolute need for preparation, accurate information gathering and research, an unbiased analysis of the findings and thoroughly and accurately documenting and reporting these findings. Also in this section is a helpful discussion of rules and ethics to be professionally maintained at all costs.
In the second section of the book, there are numerous examples of assignment types and scenarios the Legal Investigator is likely to encounter. Perhaps more importantly, the real value of Mr. Beers’ book lies in the detailed description and the specific methodology used to investigate matters including:
- Comprehensive Background Investigations
- Forensic Photography and Scene Documentation
- Reviewing and Understanding Autopsy Reports
- Nursing Home and Elder Deaths (and Abuse)
- Equivocal Death Analysis
- Motor Vehicle Collisions
- Criminal Defense Investigations in Reference to Felony Assault and Sexual Assault
The third section of the book contains information-packed material designed to refine the knowledge and skills of the investigator. There is the glossary which should be a part of every investigator’s vocabulary, first and foremost. What follows is an appendix full of information condensed from the 20+ years of education, training and experience of Mr. Beers and designed so as to assist an investigator at all stages of an investigation with basic principles useful in a wide variety of cases. Just before the index is a set of acronyms – invaluable to know in the investigative field if you are going to “talk the talk” and “walk the walk.”
In spite of Mr. Beers’ brush with short-term memory loss as a result of a serious automobile accident in 2000, and the tedious therapy required to improve his physical and mental health challenges, there was no keeping him from the profession he loved. It appears his career path as a Certified Legal Investigator (CLI) was, and always has been, second nature to him. Throughout his book, you sense his passion for discovering the truth in any given case. In a profession where the facts don’t always prove what one wants to believe true, Mr. Beers remains a consummate professional and seems untainted by life’s darker events that he has encountered on occasion in the past. He is proud of his career, rightly so, and generously shares what he has learned with others in hopes they, too, will enjoy the same satisfaction and reward from investigative work as he has enjoyed.
Perhaps most admirably, Mr. Beers not only practices his profession and writes books, he also lectures and makes sure to find the time to enjoy his wife, two children and, now, three grandchildren!
In my opinion, Legal Investigations is a must-read for all investigators and should be in everyone’s library from which to learn, and as an essential reference going forward. The wealth of information in this book is both comprehensive and timeless.
Thank you, Dean, for this important contribution to our profession.
This book can be obtained via the publisher, CRC Press:
or through the Amazon website: