ITS 4450 - Fraud Risk Assessment Tools and Investigation

Chapter 18, Legal Follow-Up

This lesson presents material from chapter 18. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. The US court system
  2. Civil cases
  3. Criminal cases
  4. Expert witnesses
Chapter 18

The story at the beginning of this chapter doesn't thrill me. The actual material of the chapter may as well begin on page 633, which presents a diagram of the structure of US federal courts, and a common structure used by many state courts. Both structures include courts of appeal at two levels above the court in which a case would begin. The system in which a case would be tried is determined by the law that applies to the case, and in the case of state laws, by the court structure of the individual state.

The text discussed civil and criminal prosecution of fraud in earlier chapters. It does so again, reminding us that civil cases typically require less proof than criminal cases, and criminal convictions typically have harsher penalties. The text explains in some detail that the defendant in a federal case is protected by constitutional rights. These and other rights are typically portrayed with some accuracy in movies and on TV.

The text offers several pages of vocabulary having to do with prosecution and defense. We have hit several of the high points already. You should know these basic terms:

  • subpoena
  • discovery
  • deposition
  • plea
  • voir dire

Let's consider that last one. Fraud cases are often complicated and hard to understand without a guide to the facts and events. The text tells us that we should expect to see expert witnesses in fraud cases. Sometimes an investigator may be called as an expert. Whenever an expert is called, that expert must expect to be be qualified with the voir dire process.

The text does not mention that it is also common to voir dire prospective jurors. Oddly, you may be looking for different characteristics in jurors compared to experts. In the following clip, the attorney seems to believe he does not want certain personalities or beliefs in the jury box.

The text is mainly concerned with your being prepared to appear as an expert witness, one who knows the evidence and can explain what it means. This takes us to the three lists of things to do and not to do that start on page 641. The advice in each list is advice the author is giving to a prospective expert witness. A lot of it comes down to being truthful, speaking about what you know, and answering the question that is being asked, not the one you were expecting to hear.

Your attorney, on the other hand, may be very concerned with suggesting that the other side's expert is not presenting the truth. (We only need this clip until about 25:20.)

And while we're at it, don't volunteer anecdotes that distract from the points your lawyer is trying to make, unlike Steve Martin, in the clip below. Some of his testimony is perfect, but he also rambles. (We can excuse him, since he is not appearing as an expert.)

Then again, sometimes the attorney has to be his own expert witness. Henry Fonda channels Mr. Lincoln in this court scene:


  1. Continue the reading assignments for the course.
  2. Complete the assignments and class discussion made in this module.