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Best Practices for Collecting Flawless Field Samples for Court Cases

Best Practices for Collecting Flawless Field Samples for Court Cases

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A little under a year ago, Chemistry Matters provided an all-day legal sampling seminar on best practices, requirements and techniques for legal sampling.  

This was one of our many favorite events in 2016. Attendees found the event highly informative, so we've decided to share some of the event's major lessons with you.

[pullquote type="left" cite="Legal Sampling Seminar Attendee"]"The Legal Sampling Seminar was really great, and I definitely learned loads, especially on being mindful of legality when sampling and [creating] documentation. [/pullquote]

Follow Solid SOP (Standard Operating Procedures)

Understand proper procedures for sampling, and prepare yourself with a sampling plan before you go to the field. Understand why you’re taking specific samples, follow proper techniques for each type of sample, and use the appropriate tools and collection containers

Take Proper Field Notes

Field notes are often neglected or not given their proper attention. But taking detailed field notes is important for any sampling event. They becomes even more important when samples must hold up in litigation. Legal cases can last for years, so field notes will help when accounting the sampling and field activities in court.

I suggest a number of simple practices to ensure proper field notes. For example, have a dedicated person for field notes for the entire field program. Take and label a lot of photos, and document scrupulously. More tips here.

Follow Best Practices for Legal Chain of Custody

For proper legal chain of custody, you need to ensure that samples are collected, tracked, and transferred in a way that holds up in a court of law. This is critical, even if you are not yet aware that the investigation will lead to litigation.

Unfortunately, legal chain of custody is often overlooked when handling samples. There are a number of procedures and best practices that can and should be implemented in order to ensure proper legal chain of custody.

If you're interested in learning more about legal sampling, let me know and we can set up a session.

About the Author

Court Sandau

Court is the President and owner of Chemistry Matters – a niche environmental consulting firm which specializes in geoforensics, environmental forensics, biomonitoring, and arson investigations. As an international speaker and expert chemist, Court is often called upon to provide his expert services in oil & gas investigations and litigious chemistry issues.

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