Lawyers and p.i.’s: no more “Just find it”?

The upcoming trial of Los Angeles attorney Terry Christiansen, charged with knowingly paying Anthony Pellicano to wiretap adversaries, is already focusing overdue attention on lawyers’ methods of working with the shadowy private investigators they often hire. Ethics rules supposedly make them responsible for the conduct of those hired snoops, but it seems winks and meaningful silences have often passed for adequate oversight:

“It was very common for a lawyer to say, ‘Just find it,'” said Jimmie Mesis, editor-in-chief of PI Magazine, a trade magazine for private investigators, and public relations chairman for the National Council of Investigation and Security Services in Baltimore. “They really didn’t care what [investigators] did, whether [it was] garbage dumpster diving or pretexting. It was just a statement of: ‘Just do what you have to do to get it.'”

(Amanda Bronstad, “Christensen Case a ‘Wake-Up’ Call for Lawyers on Use of Private Eyes”, National Law Journal, Jul. 11).

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