Subject: Re: OJ TRIAL
From: Bob Allen <re_allen -at- PNL -dot- GOV>
Date: Fri, 5 May 1995 14:43:51 GMT

In article <9505031540 -dot- AA38602 -at- central -dot- shared -dot- com>,
philh -at- central -dot- shared -dot- com says...

>My interest in the OJ trial has caused me to think about its
applicability to
>technical writing and technical writers. <snip>It seems to me that
>what the LAPD needs is to issue their detectives diskmans that have
CD-ROMS with
>all itemized procedures that they need to follow during their

I can't go along with this. I was a special agent at the federal level
for 20 years, so here's my perspective on this. Crime scenes are dirty
difficult places with unique circumstances and multiple pressures. A
detailed checklist that gives a step by step procedure is not feasible.
The biggest drawback is the more steps a procedure has, the more
opportunities a lawyer has to attack the evidence. Not that the evidence
is bad, but on the grounds that procedures were not followed. I
personally prefer a crime scene expert to explain why something was done
by saying, "I'm a professional with many years of experience in these
matters and in my judgement, that was the proper thing to do."

Another problem with detailed written procedures: as they expand to cover
new situations, the probability of conflicting guidance arises. Think
about arguing with someone about whether it is ever proper to split an
infinitive. Each of you can produce references and experts to support
your position. You end up with lots of smoke but very little light.

re_allen -at- pnl -dot- gov

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