Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Regulations and Policing of Experts

I recently sent an email to our newsletter subscribers that went as follows:
Many of you have been sending in great information to help other experts. Knowing how we all suffer from information overload, I try to be very discerning about what I pass on and keep it to a minimum, sending only the most important or most helpful information.

The following is one I felt was important enough to distribute. I received this in response to a blog post about courts, state legislatures and professional associations 'policing' experts and their testimony. I found this disturbing to say the least. Please read it and stay on top of the regulations affecting your region and area of expertise.

Warmest regards,



"Your blog post about the policing of experts is coincidentally timed. We were recently approached (as in – walked into our front office door and demanded loudly) by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, and told that we are officially in violation of State Policy” and could be ordered to abandon our practice immediately.

The “investigator” was kind enough to leave a printed copy of the statute, as well as highlighting the relevant portion. It seems that ANY expert who is not professionally licensed by the DPR (lawyer/doctor/CPA/Insurance Agents) is suddenly required to maintain a Private Investigator’s license! This is based on the current Florida statute cited below.

According to the DACA’s interpretation of the statute, this would include firms such as mine, handwriting analysis experts, mechanics, and more. Our firm has been providing E-Discovery, Data Recovery and Computer Forensic Expertise since 1998.

Now, after almost NINE YEARS, and being on constant retainer for several State Attorneys, the Federal Government, and countless Court Appointments, we are told that we could potentially be put out of business. The largest concern is that to obtain a PI license, an individual must “apprentice” for two years first.

Fla. Stat. 493.6101
enu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=493.6101&URL=CH0493/Sec6101.HTM )

(17) "Private investigation" means the investigation by a person or persons for the purpose of obtaining information with reference to any of the following matters:

(a) Crime or wrongs done or threatened against the United States or any state or territory of the United States, when operating under express written authority of the governmental official responsible for authorizing such investigation.

(b) The identity, habits, conduct, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, reputation, or character of any society, person, or group of persons.

(C) The credibility of witnesses or other persons.

(d) The whereabouts of missing persons, owners of unclaimed property or escheated property, or heirs to estates.

(e) The location or recovery of lost or stolen property.

(f) The causes and origin of, or responsibility for, fires, libels, slanders, losses, accidents, damage, or injuries to real or personal property.

(g) The business of securing evidence to be used before investigating committees or boards of award or arbitration or in the trial of civil or criminal cases and the preparation therefor.

Interesting, huh? It would seem that taken broadly enough, this would apply to paralegals and secretarial staff as well. I’d be interested to see how many other experts may fall victim to this.

I would add that in addition to the 2 year apprenticeship (internship),there’s the insurance factor- as soon as you are a licensed PI you can no longer carry standard insurances (this according to our agent) because a PI carries a much higher liability.

[In my opinion] there is also an image factor involved. I know a lot of Law Enforcement and attorneys who despise PI’s because they have long been stereotyped as “gumshoes” and “hired guns”. And as you point out all the time (and we as experts well know) being a hired gun as an expert is suicide in court." - Expert reader
The response to this email was quick and informative. I have compiled some of the responses into a PDF, Regulations and Policing of Experts. Please let us know what's happening in your field and state.

No comments: