AN AMERICAN law professor told Faculty of Civil Law students that a lawyer should investigate to have a good assessment of the strength of a case.

“If you learn the evidence along the way, then you are in a better position to evaluate whether you have a good case or not. A good investigation is the foundation of a good prosecution,” said Prof. Laurel Beeler, who teaches Criminal Procedure at the University of California Hastings College of Law in San Francisco.

According to Beeler, to establish a strong case, a lawyer must gather pieces of evidence that would nail the crime on the accused. For corruption cases, a lawyer must be able to find a direct link between the money and the accused.

“Most crimes are not complicated but proving them can be a little hard,” Beeler said during the corruption trial lecture organized by the Faculty of Civil Law and the United States of America, Office of Public Affairs at the Conference Hall of the Central Library last Feb. 28. “In investigating cases, hook the target, associate the accused with the crime and follow the money,” she said.

Beeler said an investigator must act quickly and get all documents possibly related to the case but never be too hasty.

“Be careful with whistleblowers and tips,” Beeler said. “A good prosecutor is critical.”

Beeler enumerated that records of bank accounts, telephone directories, personal diaries, tax returns, data from home and office computers, credit reports, and even trash left for pick up could be possible sources of data that are essential to the case.

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Drawing the line

Aside from discussing the investigation process, Beeler also gave tips on prosecuting corruption cases.

In fraud investigations, Beeler said lawyers must work closely with police officers and law enforcement agents to gather strong pieces of evidence.

However, she said investigation and strong evidence are not enough for a successful trial. There should also be an effective justice system, enough budget for prosecution and investigation, and a strong political will to pursue the case.

Beeler said corruption happens almost everywhere but this can be stopped by the media and the citizens watch group through raising the awareness of people on the act and its consequences. April Dawn Jennifer C. Adriatico

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