The Business/Legal Investigator

October 10, 2008

In This Issue:

The Legal Investigator
by David B. Watts, CLI, CFE

Forensic Document Examination
by Richard Orsini, CDE


Welcome to the first issue of our E-newsletter! I have long held the belief in that axiom: To live is to learn. Working in the field of investigation over the past thirty years has proven the wisdom of that statement to me, time and time again. With this newsletter, I hope to furnish you, the client, with a better understanding of how we, in the investigation field, can contribute towards your firm's future success. The idea is to acquaint you with our methods, some of our resources and contacts ( secrets) and to provide you with a better understanding of just what we can do for you and your clients. Along the way, we will be crediting the work of other investigators in Florida and elsewhere, as well as featuring articles by expert witnesses who have proven their worth in past cases. Overall, however, the intent is to draw us, the litigants and the fact-finders, closer together to better serve those who depend on us and to give something back in return.


David B. Watts, CLI, CFE

ALLIED BUSINESS SOLUTIONS, solely owned d/b/a of
Interprobe Affiliates, Inc. a Florida Corporation
(Our twentieth year serving our clients in Soutwest Florida!)
FL Lic. No. A89-00394


The Legal Investigator
by David B. Watts, CLI, CFE

"The law guides the case, but it is facts that make the case." (Quoted from: "Techniques of Legal Investigation" by Anthony M. Golec, CLI)

A legal investigation is simply the gathering of facts, wherein there is the potential for litigation. The legal investigator is a private investigator with the added training, skill and experience to fill the void between the law firm and the facts yet to be discovered through inquiry. The legal investigator is qualified to recognize evidence and seize upon opportunities when presented and is aware of what is legally relevant, material and admissable. While the legal investigator knows he or she must never "play lawyer;" he or she does, however, have a better understanding of legal issues than those whom we know as traditional "private eyes."

Memberships in professional associations, such as The National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI) and The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) are vital. Along with access to an endess wealth of knowledge and experience; joining these organizations results in having national and world-wide professional contacts without which the investigator would be severely limited, both intellectually and geographically. In addition to the national groups, statewide organizations such as The Florida Association of Licensed Investigators (FALI), provide more "reach" to the investigator, as well as keeping up with changing state laws.

The experienced legal investigator has an everyday comfort level with witness interviews and statements, internet research, surveillance, expert witness vetting, backgrounds and due diligence, testifying at depositions and in trial, as well as photography and videography and more . Whether the issue is a personal injury matter or a criminal defense case or a complex business related fraud or a corporate merger or acquisition; the legal investigator has the know how to make an enormous contribution to the case at hand.

Richard OrsiniQuestioned Documents
by Richard Orsini, CDE

For years, I have been asked the same question by attorneys, private investigators, and certified fraud examiners who get involved in a forgery case. "What do I do now?" Call a forensic document examiner! Forensic science is the application of scientific techniques to detect and prosecute crime or to make determinations in legal proceedings. The American Board of Forensic Examiners officially recognizes over 45 different forensic fields including: accident reconstruction, hypnosis, fingerprints, linguistics, psychology, ballistics, etc. Some expert directories list over 4,000 different occupations that have been involved with the judicial (forensic) process. Document examination falls under these forensic fields and includes: signature comparison, signature identification, sequence of writing, indented writing, typewriting identification, document authenticity, altered and/or obliterated documents, anonymous writings, ink dating, and other types of examination. Essentially a document examiner is one who scientifically examines a document to gather facts that will help establish the true nature of its origin and history. He does this by searching for visible and not-so-visible clues using all the scientific means at his disposal including: microscopy, photography, magnification, natural and oblique lighting, ultraviolet and infrared analysis, measuring plates, special computer scanning programs, and other testing methods.

In a signature forgery case, the document examiner will typically ask for the following:

1. The BEST copy of the Questioned document if the original is unavailable or lost. The original Questioned document is always the best evidence since a photocopy cannot always reveal a "cut & paste" forgery, writing pressure, erasures, obliterations, type of writing instrument, and other features.

2. Provide 10-20, uncontested, genuine signatures of the "victim" written around the same time frame as the Questioned Document. Changes in handwriting occur from physical, mechanical, and psychological factors. These would include: age, eyesight, injury, illness, alcohol, drugs, writing instrument, writing position, fear, anger, depression, and many other factors. The proximity in time of the Known signature samples with the Questioned signature can be very important. Some signatures written AFTER the Questioned document can be helpful.

Finally, the document examiner will provide an oral or written opinion based on the documents received and he should be available to demonstrate his findings and conclusions in a court of law.


Mr. Orsini's website is and he is located in Jacksonville Beach, FL. His Curriculum Vitae is too extensive to include in this E-newsletter. He invites you to contact him whenever you have a questioned document.

return to newsletter archive

Getting the facts…that’s what we do!