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Assurance Training: 1.2 Recording the Assurance as Evidence
NB: this is an interpretation of information seen on a course for legal incident note taking, not necessarily CAcert doctrine. As such it is a wip or suggestion, ...
This lesson follows on from Intro to Evidence to find the concept in our Assurance CAP form.
Documentation of the Assurance is an essential part of the Assurer's responsibilities and duties. The CAP form will create the backup needed in future disputes about the Assurance.
In that context it becomes your written evidence, and an Arbitration may swing on its quality as strong evidence. Good evidence has these effects:
- It improves the strength of our WoT
- It may swing an Arbitration Ruling closer to a good result.
- It assists to make each Arbitration quicker, and therefore more efficient use of our limited resources.
- It assists to keep the number of Arbitrations down.
- It deters people from pushing the boundaries, or even breaking them.
To be an Assurer, you should meet a certain minimal standard for writing a CAP form and storing it. You will be able to:
- understand the basic techniques of written evidence (PNB)
- fill out a CAP form that can be used as evidence
- preserve the evidence: privacy, security, longevity
- participate in a dispute around that Assurance
- present your evidence
/Alternate wording/ After this lesson, you will be able to:...
Note to Senior Assurers and co-auditors: Good evidentiary technique is efficient to collect. That is, once taught it becomes easier than avoiding. Outside the context of this lesson, etc, it is not necessary for the Junior Assurer's CAP form to meet the standard described here. Rather, seek to improve with one or two tips each time. If we get too bureaucratic about the result, there will be too much to remember, and the job will not be fun. See continuing improvement, and continuing education. Our standard here is not the same as PNB, which faces frequent aggressive cross examination.
The CAP form as Evidence
The role of the CAP form is to preserve the evidence of your Assurance with clarity, accuracy and permanence. It records the details listed in AP 1.1, 4.5 which you should be familiar with.
The CAP form will be used in these cases, in order of decreasing frequency:
- as your record of the Assurance to support your entering the Assurance Points into the system as a CARS.
- as a document reviewed if you seek help with a Senior Assurer or Event Manager. In this case you should seek permission from the Member to share the information with a comrade or helper, but this may not always be possible. However, the responsibility is on *you* to preserve the information privately.
Maybe one in 10 assurances.
- as evidence requested by the Arbitrator.
This is relatively rare, but that is also a good thing. The better the evidence the lower the temptation to resort to Arbitrations.
In an Arbitration, an opposing party may seek to undermine the evidence presented by you. Imagine a court room drama, and a well-paid lawyer looking for weaknesses, and you'll get the picture: The other side might want to hide the truth, and your CAP form may be critical to establishing the real truth! This of course will be very rare in our work, far rarer than say police work. But, every Arbitration will be helped immensely by a few careful tips making the CAP form strong.
CAP form procedure (PNB)
The CAP form is evidence, and the Arbitration is a legal forum. Therefore, the CAP form is a legal document, and we should prepare for that. As a written form of evidence, we can borrow some tips from Police NoteBook procedure, which here we will note as "PNB". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_notebook#Technique
Here are some characteristics and tips for preparing that good evidence:
- your CAP form must be signed and dated by you.
- the CAP form should show a mixture of the Member's writing and yours.
- for this reason it is good to have her enter the top part in its entirety, as it establishes a record of her presence and examples of her writing.
( this needs to be balanced against the automatic printing feature on the online site, which helps to eliminate errors! )
- it is good to put your notes in distinct writing under her Name, DoB and email fields.
- it is good to mark each part as checked, with a tick or other customary mark.
- In order to preserve the evidence as untampered, blank-fill any empty areas in the form (see below).
- record the date, time, place of the meeting
The CAP form should include everything of relevance to the Assurance. Add and any other relevant notes as they occur.
- writing style.
- use clear writing, so that others may interpret it.
- use a good pen.
- blue ink has the advantage that it is less easy to copy, and thus preserves the sense of the original.
- However copying is so good these days that the old advice on colours of pens is diminishing in value.
- Don't use disappearing ink!
- if you use different colours, there should be an obvious key to their usage. E.g., use one pen for the member, one pen for yourself.
- use the same pen(s) and format in each CAP form in a batch, so as to help show that the CAP form was written at that time.
- Never refer to another Assurer's CAP form to fill out details you may have missed!
- If there is anything you are unsure of, mark it on the form. You may have to allocate less APs.
- Your evidence must be factual of your observations; what another Assurer saw is recorded on her form, not yours.
Your CAP form is your evidence of your judgement. If it is mixed up with another Assurer's judgement, it is tainted & corrupted, and the WoT is weakened.
Assurances should be mutual assurances so your CAP form should mirror the other's form (this is a relatively new standard.)
Date & Time:
- Day-of-week should be added, as it adds redundancy. Three letters is fine.
- Date in internationalised format is best. These forms exist. The following shows 11th October, 2010:
20101011 is sortable format with the year first, then month, then day of month.
11 OCT 2010 is also acceptable, because the month is clearly written in words, not numbers.
- do not use formats that can be confused between USA and international dates. Your CAP form may be sent to an Arbitrator on the other side of the Atlantic or Pacific.
use of a dash is also acceptable, such as 2010-10-11 or 11-OCT-2010.
- time in 24 hour clock, local time.
E.g., 1345 for 1:45pm. A colon separator is acceptable.
All times are deemed approximate, unless otherwise stated. (Note that this differs from PNB.)
- If you believe the time to be exact, and it is important that it be exact, write why it is exact.
E.g., 2345 (room digital clock)
Place. In evidentiary form (PNB) the place should be written sufficiently for another to easily and accurately find that place again.
- Typically, if there is just you doing one Assurance, then fill in the full location: Room number, business name, building number, address, city.
If it is a wider event with a well known stand, then some simplifications can be made: CeBIT 2009 would work if it was done at the CAcert booth. Make a fuller note on the first CAP form of the day.
- Include a room number or event stand # if applicable.
Blank-filling is a technique to ensure that nothing is added later. It is basically a single horizontal line across any blanks:
For any blank spaces within text, put a single horizontal line across the entire blank from left-text - - - - - to right-text.
from an end of the line to the margin. - - - - - -
- do not leave blank lines, draw a line through them as well.
Blank filling should be done in the boxed areas (additional notes should be on the back).
Corrections in PNB are made like this:
draw a single line through them worglye splelt wrods then carry on with the correctly spelt words.
- Mark each correction with your initials.
- do not erase (rub out) any part, use the correction method described here.
As a side-note: this technique is similar to accountancy practice, where attempts to use anything but this method may be interpreted as an attempt to hide a fraudulent transaction.
Additional notes record such things as:
- any additional observations,
- detailed notes on documents, etc, including for later checking,
- failed attempts to enter the Assurance, and corrections made thereafter,
- consultations with a Senior Assurer. Note the results of that consultation, Name, etc., and
- requests by the Arbitrator - note Arbitrator/CM and nature of request.
Each additional notes should on the back of the CAP form:
- from top to bottom in sequence.
Date&time at the beginning of the note.
- Lines written from left to write covering the entire width.
- End the note with your initials.
- draw a line under the added note across entire page to show the end of that note, and make ready for the next note.
As evidence, additional notes can help in various ways:
they might refresh your memory later on. E.g., noisy, drinking party at other end.
- they can add credibility to the evidence. E.g., you took the time to draw a complete, wider and detailed picture.
- they may be cross-referenced with other records, for example those of another Assurer.
In writing a written record for evidentiary purpose:
we record the facts rather than an opinion.
- Facts are things that you: See, hear, smell, touch, taste and also feel.
Feelings can be threatenings, pain, emotions. That is, "I felt threatened" is a valid evidentiary statement.
- Try to be "opinion-free."
"appeared to be nervous" is better than "was nervous."
"moustache drooped on his left side" is better than "was wearing a false moustache."
- Be Accurate!
Where not sure, add words such as approx.
- frequent things that are recorded badly include colours, locations, facial features, racial features, clothing.
- Be quick!
- The standard we try and reach for written notes presented as evidence is:
fresh in memory or contemporaneous
- The standard we try and reach for written notes presented as evidence is:
Suspicion of Problems in Assurance
It may happen one day that we come across false documents in some sense or other. This might even lead to some sense of danger, although this is unlikely because our systems allow you to file dispute later on.
If you suspect there is a problem, there are several schools of thought as to how to continue.
The old teaching was to stop the Assurance, and hand back the forms. As an Assurer, this is your option, and it may be better to do that; you will have to rely on your judgement on the spot.
- However, it has one big drawback: if there really is a problem, then you've just destroyed the evidence!
- It might cause heightened tensions, such as alerting the perpetrator that he's been spotted.
It doesn't necessarily increase your safety to declare the other person UnAssurable to their face!
The new teaching is to Continue the Assurance.
- Complete it as well as you can at the time.
- State to the person that you will research the documents and allocate points later on.
this is called the late decision.
- Including, you may have to allocate zero points if you cannot get confidence in the documents (state that).
- If another Assurer is around, go the extra distance to get other Assurances done, so as to create a bigger and broader set of evidence, and help the person to get assured.
- Especially, seek assistance if possible from a Senior Assurer.
- As soon as possible after the meeting, write out your record of the meeting, recording all the problems or observations that you thought were in the meeting (see below).
- After the event, research the documents and allocate points.
- File a dispute if you have a genuine concern.
Completing the Assurance creates good evidence and keeps the Web of Trust strong. Also, only the completed Assurance gets you your Experience Points, and a difficult Assurance as hinted above is worth more experience
Evidence intended to support a filed or future Dispute
In filing a dispute, there are two steps relevant here: Firstly, get the dispute filed, and underway.
Secondly, write out an Incident Report, being your record of the event. Do this As Soon As Possible so the facts are clearer. However, you may want to do this step before filing a dispute, in order to establish to yourself that a dispute is the right way forward.
The standard we try and reach for written notes presented as evidence is:
fresh in memory or contemporaneous
which essentially means within some hours. In court, written notes would (likely) reach this standard if done on that day, before any other incident that might confuse the mind, and before a sleep. For example of confusing other Incidents, consider being at an Event. If after having done 10 Assurances in a row, and then you write out an Incident Report of the first of those Assurances, how can you be sure that you haven't got confused, and entered details from the other 9?
- Use all the tips of PNB in a hand-written Incident Report.
Start with Date & TIme as of your writing of the Incident Report.
Include the essential details: Date & Time of the Incident, people present, place, etc.
- End with your Name and CARS,
add the Date & Time of finishing, so the reader can establish the degree of freshness.
When the notes are written in your laptop as opposed to paper, they cannot be taken as good evidence as is, as you can edit and change them as you like. You need to create a permanent and unchangeable record of them.
The easiest way to do that is to send the notes as an email. This can be either to send the email as a dispute. If not ready yet to file the dispute, consider sending the email to a Senior Assurer, with comment: "should this be filed as a dispute? Please advise." At a minimum, send it to yourself, but this is harder to prove as timestamped.
The email should be digitally signed, and ended with your name, CARS. Once so sent, especially to or from a CAcert address, it is logged and potentially archived in CAcert's email systems (future wish). With a digsig over your CARS, sent through an archiving independent system or to another Assurer, you have established it as your well-preserved evidence at that point in time.
Corroboration. Where an event or evidence needs corroboration, have another Assurer provide it with a CARS. For example, if the Assurer requests scans of your CAP form, you can scan it in, send it to the Arbitrator, CC a nearby Assurer, who can examine the scan and the original, and confirm in her CARS to the Arbitrator. Don't forget to add an Additional Note recording these acts.