Get the Records Straight – Part 1

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If you have reams of evidence or legal documents relating to a stalking or harassment case, or nothing yet (here is how you can build one), this article is all about how you can get a legal case organized effectively and professionally.

I learned how to manage large cases while working in the legal services field and I applied what I discovered working in law offices to my own personal situation with a psychopathic stalker. So, you may find it advantageous as well.

Create a Log
Recording information to document my stalker’s behaviour was what I called a Harassment Log, because I anticipated that the police would lay criminal harassment charges against my stalker.

A log can also serve the same purpose to help get a restraining order, or deal with a divorce or child custody case.

It is much easier to clear your brain of all the bad memories and traumatic details that don’t need to remain inside there, and preserve it somewhere, like in a notebook or on a digital spreadsheet. Then you will have the particulars of events handy should you need to present them quickly to the police or courts.

Here are some examples of column headings you would find on my Harassment Log:
Date
Time
Description of Incident
Location of Incident
Witness Names (Attach Address and Phone #)
Police Called (Report #)
Officer Name (Badge #)

Since any details or information can be introduced as evidence or inadvertently shared with a stalker or psychopath, never include details that they should not see!

Keep the log in a safe place and tell only those you trust where you keep your log.

Get Law Enforcement Personnel Details and Your Report Record On the Spot
If incidents are reported to law enforcement, get the officer’s name and badge number. If the officers do not make an arrest, there may not be a record accessible later.

The police are not exactly accountable to citizens, and I know this from first-hand experience when the police showed up and I neglected to write anything down regarding an assault (I assumed that was their job). Later, when I had $35 less in my jeans for requesting a search for the record on a particular date, I discovered that no record ever existed in the police database! They also told me they were 2 years behind in entering their data in their system. Nice!

It is prudent to always tell the police that you would like to provide a written report and then get a copy of it on the spot.

Profile Your Stalker
If at all possible, get photographs of the harasser and their vehicle. Write down and find out all the personal information that you can about them (yes, you may have to stalk your own stalker!).

Details such as their physical description, telephone number, address, workplace, known banking or financial information, vehicle information, names and details of friends, family, associates, what kind of hobbies they have, anything really can prove to be helpful.

The more information you have, the more power and ammunition you gain in this kind of situation. You can always use the details of your stalker and their life against them.

Have Essential Tools with You At All Times
You should always keep a cell phone and camera handy. Having photographic evidence or a video is also necessary if a person needs to prove much these days with the police or in court.

There could also be the need to call emergency help if you are in danger, being followed or attacked.

On one particular occasion, I made a phonecall to my friend and clipped my cell phone on my hip right before I was approached by my stalker. He ended up assaulting me. My friend was an auditory witness simply by hearing what happened. She also could call 911 for me immediately, when I couldn’t.

What Kind of Material Should You Organize
For the recipient of undesired gifts (anything ranging from romantic to bizarre) or physical damage to property (graffiti, items moved or missing) or person (physical assault, child abuse, pranks) or pet (poisoning or found missing or dead), it can also be documented with photographs, videos, and reports made to police, doctors, veterinarians, child welfare personnel, insurance companies… well you get the picture.

If you have physical evidence, try not to handle or touch it much, stick it in a plastic bag after photographing the evidence where you found it, if you open it, do it very carefully and take pictures of the item(s) at every angle imaginable. Then take it down to the police station to be fingerprinted. Prints sometimes only last a few days, so do it immediately if you can. Write a report to the police and get a copy of it before leaving the station.

Keeping records of each and every contact and occurrence of all type, no matter if just a hunch, is advisable.

If you receive phonecalls, log it and after hanging up, press *57 to trace the call. Write down the number or result the phone company provides. Later, the police can trace back all those *57 calls. It is important to record all the calls because they need to pin-point the actual calls through the *57 service.

If you get calls on a cell phone, you can take a picture of the screen of your cell. Ask your cell phone company how they can trace calls, or if they can, and find a way to record the message or call. You can pick up an expensive recording device, or use your computer, to save recordings in a digital fashion.

Phone calls you make or recieve dealing with people who become engaged or involved can also be written down, noted and shown as evidence in a court of law. Police officers, social workers, lawyers, and anyone you speak to about the case should be documented.

Let Others Know What is Happening and Get Witnesses
I always recommend that victims of stalking or harassment tell their friends, family, neighbours, co-workers and the police what is happening. Although they may feel that there is not enough evidence for the police to respond (if there are no proper or written records), at least they are made aware of the problem.

Telling friends, family, co-workers, and neighbours also gives you witnesses you will need. That way, it does not come down to your word against the stalker’s word.

Organizing All the Evidence Can Be Overwhelming
Documenting stalking and psychopathic behaviour can be really difficult and emotionally draining. In my experience, I was dragged constantly to court for vexatious legal claims, visited by child welfare services, and the victim of false police claims. That was in addition to receiving threatening emails, phone calls, stuff in the mail, and being watched by private investigators that my stalker had hired.

What resulted was an accumulated mound of evidence spanning nearly half a decade (one judge commented in court that a forest could have been saved).

For example, one affidavit my court stalker filed against me was over 350 pages alone. Another affidavit he filed was nearly a thousand pages with 5 affidavits filed as exhibits!

So, whenever I wanted to search for or provide information and evidence in time-sensitive situations, such as responding to one of his countless legal claims, I always felt overwhelmed and wanted to throw up my hands (or light a match!).

Paper Evidence is Difficult to Manage
The first thing one lawyer said to me (and whom I wasted $5000 on) when I showed up in his office with my Rubbermaid bins (on a dolly) – My Dear, This is the work of a mentally ill man… My case probably drove his office staff a little bonkers too, because when I picked up my bins a couple weeks later, everything was a complete mess! Documents were mixed up, parts of documents missing, coffee and food stains on several. Even law offices with ample staff can find some cases difficult to manage!

From that point, I decided that I really had no choice but to create a system to manage everything digitally. To do this, I took to working in a law office under an experienced and successful lawyer, and was taught how he wins legal cases using technological approaches.

Doing What Great Lawyers Do
Not all lawyers have it together. Many lose cases because they were disorganized in court – I have seen it happen numerous times. The majority of lawyers rely on their secretaries and assistants to keep things organized and documented for them. Most of the time it is the paralegal who actually puts a case together.

As we can expect, law offices deal with reams of paperwork and evidence, and so documenting everything in a file, keeping their case organized, and finding or pinpointing evidence when it needs to be argued, is fundamental in their ability to win a case for their client.

If you can imagine how a lawyer does it – they build a case, eventually with the intention of billing their client, so every little action and expense is documented in the file chronologically. If you put your state of affairs in order like that, it can start to become a systematic habit to deal with each of the pieces of evidence in the puzzle of your own case.

Also, lawyers and professionals always consider their work as a business matter – not an emotional matter. Successful professionals operate in a very organized and systematic way – every document, phone call, meeting and expense having to do with a case, is tracked and recorded. Although it can get tense and cases can carry high stakes and risks, lawyers tend to keep their cool (especially in the courtroom). So use a system to keep your thoughts documented and be professional about it. This is how you can maintain The Upper Hand in stressful situations.

For example, I had to often deal with all sorts of allegations against ME. I documented every phone call I received or made with a phone call record sheet (usually because I often had to straighten out things or get evidence contrary to any allegation my stalker made against me). It was just a blank piece of paper where I put the date, the person’s name that I spoke to, their phone number, what was discussed (in point form) and the length of the call.

I always tried to ask a lot of questions and wrote down their answers, even if they made no sense. Later down the road I could always go back to the conversation record I made.

Although I was extremely mad and frustrated having to deal with all this, and sweating profusely because I transformed into a ball of nerves, I tried to keep cool and maintain my emotions. I kept every conversation on an individual sheet of paper.

Then, when I had to let out some frustration, I went and shovelled snow for an hour or beat a tree with a stick to vent. Those are days of the past, as now I live in a warm country without the snow or the psychopathic stalker.

Take the same approach with your case. For every written message or document, organize it into chronological order by date. Store everything in a binder in a place for safekeeping. (I would not recommend using a lawyer’s office or police department as you are not guaranteed to get your evidence returned to you and you may need to access important details found in your records. Personal experience!) Keep it safe in a fire-resistant and water-proof container if you can, in the meantime, until you go digital.

That is all I have time for today… but tomorrow, in Part 2, I will share how to go about the most liberating part of getting legal matters organized – going digital and shredding what you don’t need.

Until then… Keep safe and sane…

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