APG-L Archives

Archiver > APG > 2008-01 > 1199817899

From: Dee Dee King <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Forensic genealogists and Eileen O Duill
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2008 10:44:59 -0800 (PST)
In-Reply-To: <20080108181448.0773610B3D9C@smtp5.homesteadmail.com>

This is a point that Melinde and I see differently. Getting paid for a service based on a fair rate for the work that we do because of our training or expertise IS different from being paid only if the case settles to our benefit.

Maybe some attorneys on the list will chime in? This is my understanding of Lawyer Daughter's explanation: the heir searcher who charges a percentage of the recovered assets would at least be perceived as having a bias. Bias in the legal sense. No matter how honest or *right* the heir searcher's results/report might be, the legal question/issue of a biased position is there.

Can we identify other professions which routinely offer research, analysis and reports in legal issues based on percentages of the outcome? Correct me if I am wrong. Even in those instances where we know an "expert witness" might be chosen because that person tends to lean towards, let's say the auto manufacturer in rollover cases - that forensic company with its forensic experts are paid for the work they do, not ONLY if the case settles in the favor of their employer. Attorneys pay for these expert services as part of the expenses of the case, not on contingency only if they win. Is it wrong to say that the an expert witness on contingency in such a case would draw attention and possibly create problems?

Part of this exercise is to define our roles and specialties in line with other professions in the same arenas. My belief is that there is a clear difference in forensic genealogist as a third party disinterested party and the traditional role of an heir searcher who only receives payment based on a percentage of the amount recovered.

best regards,

----- Original Message -----
From: "Melinde Sanborn" <>
To: "Dee Dee King" <>,
Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2008 12:14:49 PM (GMT-0600) America/Chicago
Subject: [APG] Forensic genealogists and Eileen O Duill

Thank you, Eileen, very well reasoned. I do disagree specifically with the
idea that we (forensic genealogists) generally have no financial interest in
the outcome of a case. If we are paid, whether it be hourly as a stringer,
as a percentage (as many senior forensic genealogists are), or by flat fee,
we have a financial interest in the outcome. It is a strong motivation to be
right. We must provide accurate work to keep our attorney-employer,
company-employer, or ourselves in business. Payment takes many forms. We
don't get repeat business from third parties we fail. The court looks at it
that way, too, in my experience.

My original post on the 6th was very carefully worded in the section about
the affidavit I used as an example of things colleagues and I have done:

In it I swear "that I am unrelated and have or do not have an interest in
the outcome of the case in question" - this means 1) I am unbiased based on
previous knowledge of the heirs or relationship to the heirs, and that I am
either 2) paid or 3) paid or unpaid based on the outcome of the case. That
is what the court wants to know.

In all three options I am disinterested. I never take cases where I know the
people involved and I never represent myself. I am sometimes paid only if I
am right and I am sometimes paid if I am an hourly contractor.


Eileen wrote: We as Forensic Genealogists generally are not party to the
agreements signed between heir locators (our clients) and potential heirs.
We therefore have no financial interest in the outcome of the case.

Dee Dee King, Certified Genealogist
133 N Friendswood Dr Suite 325
Friendswood TX 77546
telephone/fax 281-431-3525
Member Association of Professional Genealogists,
Event Coordinator of the Lone Star Chapter.

CG and Certified Genealogist are Service Marks of the
Board for Certification of Genealogists used under
license after periodic evaluations by the Board.

This thread: