Dissecting the Discovery the Utilization of Frame by Frame Analysis
As investigators we are always given the daunting task of reviewing discovery. This is usually looked on as "must do" task instead of a "have to" do requirement. Face it your attorneys are already overwhelmed with trying to file all the necessary motions and trial preparation that goes along with any complex criminal case. I have found that by viewing the review of discovery and more specifically analyzing the police reports, witness statements and victim allegation as an opportunity to verify the information and to conduct the review in a methodical manner known as Frame by Frame Analysis is more productive.
To explain this concept is to imagine yourself with your remote control to your DVR or Tivo. You have the ability to stop, pause, rewind, go fast forward or take it frame by frame. By doing this in a methodical manner (Frame by Frame) you answer the questions that every professional investigator should be able to answer anytime they are confronted with a scenario Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.
In Frame by Frame you examine each sentence in this methodical manner extracting every detail out of each sentence. By examining in this manner you are able to paint a broader picture of all the facts surrounding each event that is transpiring. Imagine as if each sentence is a scene from a movie. You want to see everything that is going on in that scene where is everyone located, what is happening, why is it happening, how did it happen. I think you get the picture, pardon the pun. As you are analyzing each frame (or sentence) you are now trying to visualize the entire scene. This type of approach is really helpful when you are reviewing a rape case. One of the areas that you can do the frame by frame is the alleged incident. Replay the scene in a frame by frame review and see if the allegations can be supported by the body mechanics of your client.
Example: is it physically possible for my client to have both of the alleged victims arms held above her head while he is unbuttoning her button fly jeans at the same time. I have done this type of analysis for many years. I just didn’t really know how to describe exactly what it was that I would do. I tried to explain it like you are trying to extract every fact out of every sentence and to paint a visual picture in my mind of the events. It wasn’t until I read the book “Rape Investigation Handbook' written by a good friend of mine Brent Turvey and his colleague John Savino that I saw the term Frame by Frame Analysis and then it hit me that is what I have been trying to describe all of these years. The book is one of the foremost authorities on the proper procedures for conducting a rape investigation.
I have taken this same concept Frame by Frame and have applied it in my other investigations, especially in death penalty investigations as well as with DUI’S. This concept was just utilized by one of my investigators as he was assisting one of our attorney clients with deposition questions for use on the police officer's investigation of an alleged rape. I have also used this concept on a death penalty case where, by conducting a Frame by Frame analysis, I was able to identify a witness that had been briefly mentioned in a police report. By analyzing this witnesses information in a Frame by Frame method it lead me to interview the witness which then lead to twelve other fact witnesses that were able to establish specific timelines that refuted the states theory of when the murder happened it also lead to additional witnesses that helped in the victimology investigation part of the investigation. The totality of all this new information along with the work of a great defense team eventually lead to the dismissal of the death penalty case. This was the first time in Illinois that a death penalty case had been dismissed prior to trial time since the Capital Litigation Trust Fund had been established. Taking the time to methodically review each document and sentence helped lead to a 20 year old young man’s life being saved. I can’t stress the necessity to take the time and review all the documents in an analytical manner as the Frame by Frame. It may help to save such a person’s life or freedom and what could be more rewarding for you as an investigator than to know that even though most of society had turned their back on this person you stayed the course and searched for the truth. Your diligence was the only thing that helped that person from ending up being another statistic of wrongful convictions.