Colorado Department of Regulatory Agency 2019 Sunset Review recommends the General Assembly sunset the Colorado Private Investigator Licensing Program
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
On October 15, 2019, the Department of Regulatory Agencies announced the completion of a year-long review of Colorado's mandatory private investigator licensing law that took effect in 2015. The review concluded that the licensing law was unnecessary due to lack of demonstratable harm.In other words, because the licensing program did not protect the public from any documented harm or risk of harm DORA recommended the mandatory licensing law be repealed by September of 2020.
See also: investigators weigh in on when to withhold a report and when not to.
In their November newsletter the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado (PPIAC) Vice President of Legislation, Robert Orozco announced the PPIAC's commitment to supporting and maintaining the mandatory licensing law for as long as possible. Disagreeing with the conclusion of DORA's Sunset Review, PPIAC Chair John Morris and members with specific examples of ethical violations from licensed and unlicensed private investigators have come forth with grievances. The PPIAC has also hired a lobbyist to work to maintain the program.
We will be posting updates on legislative hearings in the new year. Want to read DORA's sunset review? Go here for the full report.
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blog
The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) hasn't provided additional documentation regarding the case that drove them to issue Grand Junction Private Investigator, Jessica Erin Lane a letter of admonishment. Hopefully additional information will be available soon.
See also: Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies issues Admonishment to Grand Junction private investigator after investigator refuses to provide investigation report
Meanwhile, private investigators from all over the country, responded with examples of when, in their practice, they might deny an investigative report to a client who requested it. Many states including the State of Colorado, require private investigators submit reports in order to keep their licenses. A cursory review of the Colorado license requirements confirms this is a requirements that needs to be specified in the contract. Screenshots obtained from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office are are circles in red.
To start with the basics, Virginia based private investigator, Kimberly Williamson defines report as "a blurb that says 'this is what we did, this is how long it took and here are the next steps.'" She says she the investigation report provides clients with, "some kind of narrative or summary with expense reports." Most cases that are paid for, invoiced and completed follow this formula.
Williamson once worked "with a guy who offered a significant amount of money for a home address of a vehicle that made him mad during traffic. He said he wanted to send a guy adult toys or some nonsense," and that was a situation that needed to be handled differently.
Although "work product is the juicy details, photos, or the generated background/address info," it is Virginia state law not to "hand work product to someone whom we discover or suspect of being under a protective order." The same pertains to a client who is under a retraining order or who may be self-injurious. In such circumstances, Williamson explains, the private investigator may still supply the information to the attorney or to the therapist of the client. If the private investigator needs to terminate the contract, the PI will "send a copy of the signed contract with the violation highlighted and a letter advising them that x, y, and z were performed and what led to termination."
“My client always gets a report, as long as the invoice is paid,” explains Oklahoma City based investigator, Brian Bates when asked about circumstances that would cause a gumshoe to preclude a client from seeing or receiving a final report. "I have very few clients on terms and most provide a retainer. That said, getting a report does not mean the client gets all my work product," he explains.
For Bates, recording everything is key. "I audio record all my interactions for my benefit. I do not turn those over unless it becomes necessary or relevant to do so. I also keep my own personal notes and I do not turn those over - I use my notes however as a basis for the report I give the client."
Thanks to recording technologies evolving from the early dictagraph days (pictured above) it is easier than ever before to inconspicuously record a conversation. Bates insists that the "audio recording feature of my Apple Watch is a life saver," saying "no one questions it the way they question a phone or recording pen."
"I also track myself while on a case (car tracker and smart phone tracker) and shoot timestamped photos randomly. Unless required as part of a surveillance job, I do not turn those over," he explains.
Why then such painstaking efforts to document information that wont even be included in the report? "The main reason I record all interactions is for liability reasons," Bates explains, is that "people lie - a lot. Recordings have saved me from arrest more than once."
See also: the Denver Private Investigator Blog talks process server safety with Tom Mills
While there is no known correlation between the Admonishment that the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies issued to the Grand Junction investigator ---case currently remain unknown as no additional supporting documentation has been made available-- and the examples in this article, the report is still a vital part of the job for Bates who says, "my client gets a report, as long as the invoice is paid."
Recordings protect private eyes anytime their side of the story is contested and Bates is emphatic that "people lie - a lot. "Recordings have saved me from arrest more than once. Had the FBI stop me once as I was leaving a town in Oklahoma. All because the person I interviewed, that was involved in a federal case, realized he shouldn’t have talked to me. He called the FBI agent he had been working with and lied and told him I identified myself as a federal agent. I was detained and only released after I was able to play back audio of our meeting - where I clearly gave the man a card and told him I was a private investigator.”
See also: felony menacing charge
Bates’ example is not dissimilar in what happened to Colorado process server, Tom Mills when he served papers to an off-duty Denver Sheriff’s Deputy in Adams County, Colorado and it was ultimately the video recording he made of of an off-duty Sheriff’s Deputy pointing a gun at him that he used to prove his innocence.
Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies issues Admonishment to Grand Junction private investigator after investigator refuses to provide investigation report
By Susanna Speier,
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
Jessica Erin Lane of Grand Junction, Colorado, located in Mesa County received a letter of admonition issued by Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) program director, Mark Browne on January 7, 2019 stating “the director determined that the facts disclosed do not warrant the commencement of formal disciplinary proceedings against your private investigator license. However, the Director has ordered this Letter of Admonition be issued to your pursuant to section 12-58.5 (1), C.R.S.”
See also: Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies issues admonishment to Texas based Colorado private investigator licensee
If you'd like to brush up and/or refresh on the latest tweaks to licensing regulations, you'll find the full legalese rundown on the Justia website and Mark Brown's letter specifying the Lane's licensing violations are pasted below.
According to the two bullet points and their parenthetical (but considerably more layman-friendly) summaries, the admonishment is for “failing to complete the contracted investigation and failing to provide report of investigation.”
See also: report writing for Private Investigators
It is unclear from the document obtained why Lane did not complete the investigation and/or produce the report. As Lane never issued a response, the admonishment must remain a stand-alone document of what happened. The segment of the letter, pictured below, also states the admonishment will be available in the public records which is how the Denver Private Investigator Blog obtained it.
According to her Linkedin profile, Lane has worked for the Defense Investigators Group (DIG) The Robison Group and Marden Investigation Company and has 18 years of experience in investigations and legal fields. "I have built, directed, supervised and managed a successful investigation agency for 10 years," she states in her Linkedin summary.
Reports are a vital part of an investigation. Especially if it is a legal investigation requiring consistency and clarity to ensure the attorneys, judges and juries are able to connect dots of seemingly disparate trails of evidence and testimonies.
To reiterate, it is unclear from this document why Lane did not complete the investigation by providing her client with a report at the end of the assignment. This particular article, however does not need to end as Lane is welcome to contact and share her side of the story with the Denver Private Investigator Blog so we better understand what the dynamics between her and the client were that lead to the admonishment being issued. We can, of course, be reached through the website and through all of our social media channels which now include Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
The bad news is that the most viewed eclipse in history resulted in permanent eye injuries for people who purchased counterfeit or defective eclipse glasses on Amazon. The good news? If your eyes were fried by last month's eclipse, there is now a class action personal injury lawsuit pending and one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs is the Hannon Law Firm, LLC which is conveniently located on Downing Street in Denver, Colorado.
The class action lawsuit against Amazon was filed on August 29th by a Charleston, South Carolina couple who sustained eye injuries after viewing the August 21st eclipse. The compensation is an undisclosed amount that will exceed $75,000 according to the Class Action Complaint on file. "Corey Payne and Kayla Harris said they experienced headaches and vision impairment after using the glasses to watch the US eclipse on 21 August," reported the BBC last week.
Amazon issued a recall on August 10th, however the South Carolina couple says they were not notified in time and ended up viewing the eclipse through defective glasses. The couple experienced headaches, watery eyes and dizziness in the hours following the eclipse and reported experiencing distorted vision during the days that followed.
According to PBS digital science producer, Nsikan Akpan, Amazon had been offering to reimburse customers who purchased defective glasses before the eclipse however Amazon refused to list names of the vendors carrying the faulty products.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) provided information to the public on how to obtain ISO and ISO 12312-2 compliant glasses. The American Astronomical Society (AAS) also issued a list specifying credible eclipse glasses retailers vendors along with credible sources for camera lens solar filters.
According to ABC, "Paper Optics" was one of the manufacturers responsible for selling products that resulted in eye damage however, the name of the manufacturer is not specified on the Class Action Complaint and Amazon currently carries a number of American Paper Optics product listings with no mention of the lawsuit. An Amazon sellers forum, however, is discussing the lawsuit.
On their website, American Paper Optics claims to be ISO certified and tested. The company is also first on the AAS list of safe manufacturers. A safety notification on American Paper Optics' website however illustrates the visual characteristics that distinguish real from counterfeit eclipse glasses.
"American Paper Optics" is a Tennessee based company who, according to TopClassActionsDOTcom "projected it would make and sell 100 million pairs of eclipse glasses, about 10 million of which were sold to Amazon.
"Amazon attempted to recall these Amazon eclipse glasses in an email announcement sent out Aug. 19, two days before the eclipse. The email stated that the supplier of Amazon eclipse glasses could not confirm that they were produced by a recommended manufacturer. Amazon recommended that people not use the glasses to view the eclipse.
The plaintiffs say this recall announcement was “tragically too little, too late.” Despite the allegedly inadequate email announcement, plaintiffs and their proposed Class Members still used these Amazon eclipse glasses to view the eclipse, exposing themselves to eye damage.
Payne says he bought a three-pack of eclipse glasses from Amazon on Aug. 1. He and Harris, his fiancée, say they never got notice of the Amazon eclipse glasses recall before they used these glasses to watch the eclipse."
"The safety of solar eclipse glasses was a major concern of astronomy experts in the weeks leading up to the much-watched event," according to MarketWatch, "Third-party online vendors, such as Amazon and eBay, EBAY... monitored their sites for counterfeit solar eclipse glasses, removing posts and refunding customers for glasses that were not compliant with safety standards, both companies told MarketWatch," when interviewed for the story.
The United States district court document excerpt is attached below. The complete document was obtained through Geekwire and you can click through to view that document in full. We'd love to hear your thoughts on the case.
A screenshot of American Paper Optics' warning is also included along with a link to their website. It is still unclear whether the glasses the plaintiffs purchased through Amazon were counterfeit or defective, however we expect to be learning more shortly.
Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies issues admonishment to Texas based Colorado private investigator licensee
y Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
On or about January 26, 2017, Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) reviewed a complaint regarding Patrick Baird, a Granbury, Texas based private investigator who has held a Colorado level 2 license since June 16, 2015.
According to public records, around September 26, 2016, Baird pled guilty to calling and leaving over twenty voicemail messages with a client in a single afternoon. The Harris County District Court in the State of Texas sentenced him to two days of confinement and a $250 fine.
Baird admitted the violations to DORA’s Office of Private Investigator Licensure Program Director, Mark Browne who cited several licensing regulation sections including 12-58.5-109 which includes stalking and failing to meet generally accepted standards of practice in private investigation.
After he was fined an additional $250 by the State of Colorado --plus an additional 15% surcharge, bringing his total Colorado fees to $287.50-- Baird was issued an Admonishment for failing to meet generally accepted standards of the practice of private investigations.
He was warned that such conduct would lead to formal action against his license including probation, suspension or revocation, should it recur.
DORA and the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) require disclosure of public documents which, according to their website, "are generally defined as an existing written or electronic document made, maintained or kept by a state agency for use in a government function or purpose."
The Order, signed by Baird as well as Browne, is now a public record in the custody of the Director which is how it was obtained for the article.
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