Client: Keith Pettle, Icarus Investments LLC
South Central USA
Provides a vehicle for investing personal funds in various activities, including commodities trading, art investments, and motion picture productions and financing.
The Business Challenge
Because of the nature of our activities, litigation is inevitable and complex. This is especially true of the motion picture side of things, where contract disputes frequently rise to the level of criminal prosecutions of persons who would rather pocket investors' money than perform the agreed-upon services. The fact that these activities occur internationally across national boundaries only adds to the complexity.
At the present time criminal charges have been brought against two groups in the United States and simultaneously in Europe. Civil litigation is pending against three additional groups. At this time the civil suits are confined to the U.S., but additional suits in the E.U. and Switzerland are contemplated.
As a former peace officer and retired attorney, none of this is particularly intimidating to me, except for the sheer amount of information to be tracked. Where an act occurs across jurisdictional boundaries it may be a crime or a tort in both jurisdictions and possibly in still other jurisdictions as well, depending upon such factors as the nationalities of the accused and the victim. Because the elements required for proof of criminal culpability differs among jurisdictions the same charges must be approached differently when presenting the complaint to authorities of differing jurisdictions. The result is that what appears to be one case is for all practical purposes two or more utilizing the same facts and physical evidence, but with the evidence applied differently to prove different elements as required in the various jurisdictions involved.
To give an example, in one case involving stolen funds, forged documents and other illegal activities, four international jurisdictions, including the US, EU and other states, were involved, each concerned with a different aspect: fraud against a national company and misuse of the corporation in one jurisdiction, forgery and bank theft in another, use of telecommunications to commit fraud in a third, and bank fraud in a fourth. The complaint had to be prepared differently for each of the four jurisdictions and since the U.S. is on a different planet from the other countries involved, it too required a different perspective in presenting the information.
MasterFile has been extremely useful in that the document profiles and extracts allow the same evidence to be presented to different jurisdictions with appropriate emphasis for each case, without having to maintain completely separate files. Several relational database systems were considered, but none offered the flexibility provided by MasterFile. The same flexibility would be useful if I were still practising and was representing several clients involved in the same or similar litigation, or one or more clients with cases in more than one jurisdiction.
Since a great deal of travel is involved in my business it is also very useful to be able to synchronize versions of the files on my office computer and my portable computer, as well as to carry backups of the information on USB storage devices that fit in a pocket. While this is theoretically possible with other programs, none have had the convenience, ease and speed of MasterFile.
My use of MasterFile has been about evenly divided between scanned documents and those sent electronically. The Evidence Cruncher and its OCR characteristics have greatly simplified the process of producing extracts from the basic scanned documents. As previously mentioned, extracts are critical to what I have to accomplish. Without the Evidence Cruncher to create OCR documents I would not be able to prepare the documents I need for the various jurisdictions with which I am dealing. The time factor involved in scanning and then separately converting to OCR documents is simply prohibitive. The accuracy of the OCR program is astounding, but beware- it makes you lazy, and you get out of the habit of proof-reading the "crunched" document. Fortunately no harm has been done because no errors have been introduced, but the possibility always exists.
As documents are loaded, they are profiled with a few pieces of information, such as date, author, type and description. You have the option of further tying the documents to your issues, topics and facts, or during the document review phase once documents are loaded. I chose to do review as I loaded documents which had several advantages not appreciated early in the process. In particular, and probably most critical, is that you are forced early in the process to decide at least some of the basic issues to be proved so that your efforts are properly directed from the beginning. Then, the thought process of deciding how the documents I was profiling related to other profiles and to the issues, topics and facts helped establish the logical basis for presenting a case. Furthermore, MasterFile's ability to modify issues, topics, facts, players and the profiles and extracts themselves, either individually or globally throughout the entire database, is an extremely important feature which saves an incredible amount of time.
My experience with MasterFile is limited to about 3 months, but I have come to the realization that for my application it isn't a question of why MasterFile is the best solution, it is the only solution -- and also, exceptionally easy to use. Without MasterFile I simply could not accomplish my goals without hiring several assistants to perform the tasks MasterFile handles very efficiently.
This is not a paid endorsement, I am not related to anyone at MasterFile, and I had not met any of the people at MasterFile until I found the program by Googling. I'm very glad I did find them. It has saved me a great deal of time and money, and made possible an otherwise impossible situation.
Because of some problems with my computer I encountered a number of difficulties installing the MasterFile program (and the Lotus Notes database as well), but the technical support provided by MasterFile was excellent. They talked me through the entire process, and because of an imminent crisis I was faced with, were kind enough to do so after hours and on a Saturday, when they were supposed to be at home having a normal life. I cannot speak highly enough of the treatment I received from these folks.
Learn more: Private Equity Firm selects MasterFile Evidence Cruncher