Preliminary Investigation: Investigate Yourself

We should set aside a room, just for ourselves, at the back of the shop, keeping it entirely free and establishing there our true liberty, our principal solitude and asylum…We have a soul able to turn in on herself; she can keep herself company; she has the wherewithal to attack, to defend, to receive and to give. – Montaigne, On Solitude

You’ve used every resource to pry into your prospective defendant’s life, history, abuses, pretensions, soul.

Now you need to turn the whole process in on yourself.

Search Google, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn. Twitter. Wikipedia. Search every site you belong to and/or post on. Review every mention as if through the eyes of an enemy, and delete anything that suggests you’re anything but sane, sober, courteous, nice, law-abiding, non-violent, well-spoken, unpretentious, sort of smart (but not smart-ass).

Delete or edit any notation and/or photo that’s too personal, such as your address, your age, your workplace. Your piercings. Tats. Delete mention of your religion, or lack thereof. Memberships in S&M clubs. Memberships in groups promoting celibacy, UFOs, astrology or anything ditsy, New or Old Age.

Keep it beige.

Then search through all the courts — just in case you forgot, oops, you sued someone once, or that you were sued, or filed for bankruptcy. You can’t change court records but at least you’ll be previewing what your prospective defendant might learn. Print out all court documents referring to you and store them in your binder(s).

Got a car? Search the DMV. (Is that possible? Don’t know; don’t have a car.)

Now check your e-mails, even the deleted ones, and harvest anything that suggests you’re embittered, a liar or a lunatic. Or justified in becoming a plaintiff (and add these to your binders). In fact, just print out what’s useful and dump your trash, empty your recycle bin, clean out your cookies. Wipe your computer history off the map.

If any of this information shows up as a discovery document and is used as an exhibit in your deposition, you want to know about it long in advance. Such as now.

 

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