Five Investigative Principles That Will Help You Be A Better Christian Case Maker

by J Warner Wallace

I was recently interviewed for Los Angeles Magazine due to our success over the years working Cold-Case Homicides in the County of Los Angeles (like the recent Lynne Knight case). As a result, Matthew Segal posted a story entitled, “How to Operate Like a Cold Case Detective.” He quoted me on several principles we’ve employed in our investigations and prosecutions. While reviewing the list, I realized it paralleled much of what I’ve described at related to the investigation of Christianity. Here is part of the text of the article with hyperlinks to posts I’ve written as a Christian Case Maker. I hope these investigative principles will also help you become a better defender of Christianity:

Don’t trust popular opinion: “We work the cases nobody wants to work, the ones where it’s like, ‘Hey, we’re not sure this case is winnable.’ For the most part everyone has abandoned it for years. We’ve had cases where the victim’s family was absolutely unconcerned and in fact didn’t even want us to work the case. Why would you want to file a case when nobody’s pressuring you? Nobody even knows about this case, so all you can do is bring shame to our agency. To file a cold case results in one of two things: a win, which is fine, or a loss, which makes you look really bad.”

Find jurors who can connect the dots: “People don’t realize that these trials are won and lost in jury selection. That’s typically an aspect that no one gets to see, because typically no reporters are there. But that’s where the most masterful work is done. For our cases, you have to ask the right kind of questions that along the way end up teaching the jury about circumstantial evidence—because they’re not going to know. I don’t want it to sound like we’re trying to brainwash juries. We’re trying to educate them in a way that we think is helpful to the kind of case we think we’re going to present. Both sides do this.”

Never consider any detail too small: “No one’s going to know the case as well as we do. We simply spend more hours on it. That’s what happened on the Douglas Gordon Bradford case…


Five Investigative Principles That Will Help You Be A Better Christian Case Maker | Cold Case Christianity