A Quick Guide to Evidence Review
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What is evidence review?
Evidence review is a chance for both parties to review the investigative report and other evidence to provide feedback before the investigator finalizes it. The report describes the fact finding portion of the investigation, and typically details the alleged misconduct and summarizes relevant evidence. Parties should be provided with the report as well as the full evidence that was considered during the investigation (e.g. statement transcripts, screenshots, etc).
What should I focus on during evidence review?
Your primary goal is to make sure your side of the story is as clear as possible and that all of the important information is captured in the investigative report. Start by reading the report itself and marking any issues you see. Depending how much time you have and how able you feel to engage with the material, it may help to read the report through once and then review it in more detail to pull out the things you want to respond to. We suggest focusing on the following:
- Missing information
- Factually inaccurate information
- Bias in the report itself (i.e. the way the report is written shows bias towards the other party)
- Information that is correct but out of context or used to draw the wrong conclusion
Once you have reviewed the report and figured out any areas of concern, you can then turn to the evidence itself. As attorneys we think it is good to look through all of it, but as advocates we understand that it doesn’t always feel possible because of timing or triggers. If you have to prioritize, focus on finding any citations for your points above, and try to review evidence that was heavily cited or cited for an important point in the report.
How should I structure my response?
The easier your response is to read, the more effective your argument will be. For ease of review, we suggest breaking it down into categories based on the above and using numbered or bulleted lists.
Focus on your main points, and be thorough but efficient. It may be tempting to pull out everything in the report you disagree with or that is not quite right, but doing so may actually hurt you. It’s easier for arguments to get lost in a long list and it can undermine your credibility to nitpick things that aren’t relevant or important (it may be interpreted as petty or retaliatory).