1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    How can one find out if a cop is corrupt in this scenario?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, Aug 21, 2016.

    In my story, the villain goes free for lack of evidence, and the main character cop, becomes obsessed with the case, and nailing the villain, as well as the other villains, who he does not know.

    So eventually he steals the keycard of the lawyer who defended the client and got him off. He uses the keycard to break into the law firm building and look in the lawyer's files on the case. He reads about what the client told the lawyer, of what really happened, in the lawyers reference notes, and finds out that there is a corrupt cop working with the villains, that was assisting them in the case. A mole pretty much.

    Now the MC cannot use this as evidence at all, since he broke in to have a look at it illegally. He is just obsessed with finding the truth, and couldn't have found a potentially better place to look so far. He just wants to know the truth, so he can then formulate some sort of plan to get evidence that he could make admissible later hopefully. So he is just using the lawyer's case file and notes, as a guide only.

    But I was told by a couple of lawyers that I asked on how this would all work, that it's a plot hole, cause logically a lawyer would not make any reference notes, of one of the cop's in the case, being a mole working for the gang.

    However, this was a protected conversation between the attorney and the client, so if it's protected, why would a lawyer be worried about writing it down? I thought that protected conversation meant protected, period.

    And that if someone else read that a cop was corrupt in there, the information was legally immune from being used, since it was a protected conversation. But I was told that this is not legally correct and therefore plot wise, a lawyer would have no reason to keep this conversation written down, especially of there was a secret mole cop in it.

    So if this doesn't work plot wise, I was wondering how can the MC find out who the corrupt cop is? The only ones who know it is are the corrupt cop (which the MC doesn't really suspect at all, or has no evidence to suspect), and the defendant, and the defendant's lawyer, should the defendant decide to tell the lawyer, so the lawyer might be able to use that information to build a possible better defense.

    So, how can the MC find out who the corrupt cop is, when only two people besides the corrupt know, and the MC does not want to coerce them into talking or anything cause that means too much trouble?
     
  2. Sparky19
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    Sparky19 Member

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    "So how can the MC find out who the corrupt cop is, when only two people besides the corrupt know,"
    This leads me to believe that your MC needs to overhear a conversation between the lawyer and the client in some form or other. They probably wouldn't be talking about it unnecessarily so maybe he somehow overhears the moment when the client tells his lawyer. I don't know what would set him in such a path to be eavesdropping on the two, is he so convinced that there is more going on that he would be willing to jeopardize his career by bugging the defendant or following him and conducting off the clock surveillance?

    As far as the lawyer goes I would listen to your lawyer pals, my only knowledge in the area personally is from far too many binge watched episodes of law and order SVU... That being said it makes sense to me a legal pad with incriminating evidence wouldn't be lying on the top of the lawyers things... However if the lawyer was using a tape recorder for all of his conversations with his client maybe he hadn't gone back through and deleted it yet? Or maybe you could have the MC find less obviously incriminating evidence against the corrupt cop but rather some oddities that warrant further investigation so that he later confirms his suspicion?

    Hope some of that helps, the first option might be hard to work in but a good tense eavesdropping/ surveillance scene with the MC almost getting caught in the act is pretty fun for readers. And even if you did decide to have them finding notes in the office I wouldn't have noticed that as a plot hole personally, only lawyers would.
     
  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    I might be able to have an eavesdropping scene, but I want the MC to find out after the case is considered 'closed', so the defendant and the lawyer, would not be communicated at this point. I would have actually thought that a scene where the MC has to steal the lawyer's keycard, and then break into the building, with the lawyer reporting the theft, and then the police having to investigate it, and the MC covering it up, would actually be more fun, than almost being caught eavesdropping.

    But after talking with a lawyer, apparently I misunderstood the protected conversation law between attorney and client. When an attorney says that the conversation is protected, what that means is that that attorney is not allowed to divulge it. But if someone else were to get a hold of the attorney's notes and divulge them, than it's legal, and the notes can be used as evidence it seems.

    I thought that a protected conversation meant that the notes are protected to, with a legal stamp put over it, saying this conversation is protected and cannot be used to incriminate a client, by law. But it's not protected by law, just by the attorney not being able to reveal it, to the law.

    So it depends on how much I can stretch it, and still have the story be believable. Will readers believe that a conversation is protected by law as in immunity from being used for incrimination even if the conversation is discovered by a third party? When in reality, it is only protected from the attorney not being allowed to reveal it only?
     
  4. Sparky19
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    Sparky19 Member

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    Interesting so you're trying to figure out if the MC can use the evidence he uncovers with the lawyers keycard in court against the cop? Like is the MC actually using the evidence to go through the proper channels to take down this dirty cop?
    I think readers will believe something as you long as you are stating it with confidence and in a detailed manner, that being said even if the the police officer MC might not want to go through proper channels because it would incriminate himself in the process, "How exactly did you get the evidence implicating dirty Cop?", "Uh... I found it...".
    Also seems like it might be more fun for the reader if he isn't going through the courts to root out the dirty cop but rather is taking things into his own hands (which sort of raises morality questions: is it okay to break the law to take down a cop who is breaking the law?).
     
  5. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    The MC cop is not going through proper channels since he stole a keycard and used it to break into the law firm to read the attorney's case notes. The MC cop at this point, just wants to find out the truth. Once he finds out who the corrupt cop is, and what is actually going on behind the curtain, he will then try to come up with hopefully a plan to put a stop to it. But at this point, is he breaking the law to find out the truth only at first, and just use the truth as a guide, since he cannot use any evidence that he uncovers from breaking and entering.

    I don't know if I can have the MC overhear a conversation after the case is considered closed though. Because all I want the MC to find out is, who the corrupt cop is. If he overhears conversations after, then he will find out other things that I do not want him to find out. So I would need a reason as to why he only hears part of the conversation, and not the rest maybe.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
  6. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    If he breaks in and steals the notes the whole thing will come under 'fruit of the poison tree' - that is the notes are inadmissable because they were acquired through the commision of an illegal act.

    However as was mentioned on one of your other threads , knowing who the guilty party is makes it a lot easier to construct a case against them , even if the original knowledge comes from inadmissable sources (it also opens up the options of framing the corrupt cop, blackmailing him into resigning, using the fact that he's dirty to leak inaccurate info to the perp, or shooting him in the head)
     

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