Have you ever interviewed a witness, taken a deposition, or cross-examined a suspect and concluded that the individual left something out, took you in a direction that did not serve your purpose, or simply lied? Psychological Narrative Analysis (PNA) equips legal professionals with effective techniques to obtain the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Schafer and Associates provides training to equip attorneys, paralegals, and investigators in the art of PNA.
PNA is more than simple content analysis. In addition to detecting deception, PNA provides legal professionals with insights into the personalities and behavioral characteristics of interviewees when making formal or informal inquiries. PNA is founded in academic research and over 30 years of investigative and analytical experience and is effective when analyzing both written and oral communications. PNA techniques meet the needs of legal professionals in the 21stcentury.
Schafer and Associates analyzes depositions, transcripts, statements, and video tapes to identify areas where witnesses or defendants omit or obfuscate the facts. Schafer and Associates also provides legal professionals with the strategies to exploit vulnerabilities exposed by the person’s own words.
Schafer and Associates provides:
The following is an excerpt from a deposition of a driver who rear-ended a vehicle as it turned into the driveway to an apartment complex. The driver contended that the vehicle he struck passed him on the left, changed lanes, and abruptly turned into the driveway thus, causing the accident. The driver’s responses illustrate how he took the plaintiff’s lawyer to the Land of Is.
LAWYER: When you observed my client passing you on the left of your vehicle, what was the speed of your vehicle?
DRIVER: I know I had to be going to normal speed of whatever it was on that road. I cannot remember, but it...I never expected a vehicle to be in the front of me, and I remember just slamming on the brake.
The driver stated that he had to be going the speed limit not that he actually drove at the speed limit. The driver used the Word Qualifier “normal speed;” however, the driver did not specifically identify the meaning of normal speed. If the driver routinely drove faster than the posted speed limit, then normal speed to the driver is driving faster than the posted speed limit. If the driver defined normal speed as the posted speed limit, then he was driving the posted speed limit; however, this proposition is not likely because the driver could not remember the posted speed limit.
The driver used the Push-Pull Word “normal,” which indicates that an “abnormal” speed existed. In further support for this hypothesis, the driver stated that he “had to be going to normal speed.” A literal interpretation of the driver’s words means that he drove either faster or slower than the posted speed limit and adjusted his speed to the normal speed. A competing hypothesis posits that the driver was driving to the normal speed limit, meaning that he drove at the posted speed limit. In either instance, how could the driver drive at the speed limit or adjust his speed to the speed limit if he did not know the posted speed limit?
The driver took the lawyer deeper into the Land of Is when he stated, “I never expected a vehicle to be in the front of me, and I remember just slamming on the brake.” The driver used Misdirection to change the focus of the question from how fast his vehicle was going to his reaction to the vehicle in front of him. The Word Clue “just” indicates that the driver was startled when he saw the vehicle in front of him. This lends support to the hypothesis that the driver, for whatever reason, did not pay attention to his surroundings. The driver’s response was true, but the truth about what?
The lawyer refocused the driver with the follow-up question.
LAWYER: Okay. My question was, do you remember what the speed was of your vehicle when you observed my client’s vehicle passing on the left?
DRIVER: No, I don’t remember back then. I can’t remember what the miles on that road was because I’ve been living in Florida, back and forth.
The lawyer repeated the question and again the driver took the lawyer to the Land of Is. The driver reiterated that he did not know the speed limit and used Misdirection to change the focus of the question from how fast his vehicle was going to his travels back and forth to Florida. The fact that the driver traveled back and forth to Florida is irrelevant to the speed of his vehicle. The driver’s answer is true, but the truth about what?
The driver used the Push-Pull “I don’t remember,” which indicates that he did possess that information in the past but he simply could not retrieve it. The driver also stated, “I can’t remember,” which indicates that the driver was truthful about not knowing the miles on the road.
The driver used the Word Qualifier “miles on the road,” but he did not specifically define “miles on the road.” “Miles on the road” could mean the speed limit, the mile makers, the number of miles the driver drove, or a number of other meanings. The driver used Misdirection to subtly take the lawyer to the Land of Is. The driver answered “No,” and then used Misdirection to change the focus of the question from the speed of his vehicle to the “miles on the road,” which he failed to define. The driver used the Word Qualifier “miles on the road,” which could mean the speed limit or it could mean the mile marker. If the driver referenced the mile marker, then he answered truthfully. Likewise, if the driver referenced the speed limit of the road he took back and forth to Florida, he answered truthfully; however, he did not address the question of how fast his vehicle was traveling when he observed the other vehicle passing on the left. The driver told the truth, but the truth about what?
The lawyer then asked the driver to estimate the speed of the van relative to his vehicle.
LAWYER: Can you estimate for me how much faster the van was traveling than your vehicle?
DRIVER: No, I cannot answer that. I don’t know.
LAWYER: Can you tell me how much time passed from the time you saw the vehicle passing you on the right until the vehicle ended up in front of your vehicle.
DRIVER: How much time?
LAWYER: Yes, sir.
The lawyer restated his question to which the driver responded, “I can’t remember that.” The driver used the Word Qualifier “that,” but he did not specifically identify the referent for “that.” If the driver referred to the van traveling parallel to his vehicle, then the driver never saw the van to his right as he stated earlier. This supports the hypothesis that the driver was deceptive. The driver used the Hanging Word “I just remember…” but, for unknown reasons, decided not to finish his thought. The driver used another Hanging Word “It’s like…” but, for unknown reasons, decided not to finish his thought. The lawyer’s next question should have been, “What do you remember?” or “What is it like?”
The lawyer realized that the driver did not see the van traveling along side of his vehicle and sought confirmation.
The book Psychological Narrative Analysis:A Professional Method to Detect Deception in Written and Oral Communications contains additional techniques to detect deception. An electronic version of the book can be found at Google Books. Catch a Liar is a booklet that contains Dr. Schafer's lecture notes.
|© 2010 Schafer and Associates. All rights reserved. Designed by DigiGraph Media, LLC.|