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Internal Investigations 101: Different Approaches to Interviewing Targets/Suspects, Part III

An internal investigation is an important mechanism an organization can use to address an allegation of wrongdoing, determine legal liability, identify individuals or parties with culpability, comply with regulatory requirements, develop corrective measures and enhance operational efficiencies. Buckner is pleased to continue its blog series highlighting best practices, strategies and techniques that can be used by organizational leaders and counsel during an internal investigation. Today’s post will continue our discussion on several methods to approach an investigation target. The next method is the “sympathy” approach. As outlined in an online article, “Private Investigation: Interrogation Approaches and Tactics”, an investigator would use the sympathy approach in investigations concerning offenses “committed in the heat of passion. Offenses involving violence have emotional overtones that can be exploited by sympathy and understanding”. [Note: An investigator should be aware of his or her jurisdiction’s and profession’s ethical standards for using certain types of interviewing tactics, including the sympathy approach.] Sympathy is used in an interview through the investigator “describ[ing] the offending act as only one of many similar acts committed by lots of people; that the act is forgivable, understandable, very human, completely out of character for the suspect, and not likely to ever occur again”. Further, the target/accuser “is described as a clearly rational person, as virtuous as anyone else, and surely sorry for what happened”. Next, the investigator seeks the target/accuser to explain himself/herself “because it may cast the incident in a true light and may help the suspect assuage emotional pain”. An investigator also can drop references to indicators of guilt or evidence that links the target/accuser to the allegation or incident.

Source: “Private Investigation: Interrogation Approaches and Tactics”, Learning Shop USA, available at: http://learningshopusa.com/private-investigation-interrogation-approaches-and-tactics-2.

Contact attorney Michael L. Buckner (+1-954-941-1844; mbuckner@bucknersportslaw.com) for additional information on conducting internal investigations and intelligence-gathering.


About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

An attorney who provides clients with internal investigation, civil litigation, estate planning and compliance services.


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