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Investigation Hypotheticals: The Interview Notice

Buckner provides investigation best practices using hypotheticals derived from the firm’s investigations conducted for its sports, education and corporate clients:

FACT PATTERN: John Dough, an attorney, has been retained by ACME University to conduct an internal investigation of alleged misconduct and violations of university policies. Dough is preparing to conduct interviews of ACME faculty, administrators and staff. Dough wants to minimize future procedural objections by the interview subjects, including, but not limited to, proper notice of an employee’s obligations under ACME’s ethical code, which requires institutional employees and students to cooperate during an investigation and provide truthful testimony during the process. What is one method Dough can use to provide sufficient notice to interview subjects?
 
ANSWER: Before starting an interview, Dough can provide each interview subject with a written and oral statement disclosing the purpose of the interview (the “interview notice”). The interview notice should be consistent with organizational policy and procedure regarding an employee’s obligations and responsibilities during an internal investigation. For example, the interview notice should inform the subject, at a minimum: (1) cooperation is a necessity; (2) the organization has retained the investigator/lawyer to represent it in connection with the investigation; (3) the subject must be truthful when providing answers to questions during the interview; (4) the subject must adhere to all obligations under regulatory investigative protocols, if applicable (e.g., NCAA enforcement legislation); (5) the purpose of the interview; (6) the organization’s anti-retaliation policy; and (7) the subject’s right to be represented by personal legal counsel (if it is permitted under organizational policy).

Contact Buckner attorney Michael Buckner (+1-954-941-1844 ext. 1; mbuckner@bucknersportslaw.com) for more information on internal investigation issues.