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I'm hoping to get some insights about the legality of hiring a witness to gather evidence.

This person would be an unaffiliated third-party that simply listens in on a co-worker conversation from an adjacent cafe table, in hopes of catching an admission of guilt.

There's no case, unless the co-worker provides an admission of guilt (e.g. "Yeah, I gave you an impossible deadline so you would fail and give big boss a reason to can you.").

My goal is simply to get a witness-signed transcript of the conversation, as someone told me it's almost impossible to legally record people in California with electronic devices.

Is it legal to hire someone to witness this or do they need legal credentials? Could I be exposed to any liabilities? ... Any gotchas?

My alternative is to pay a detective, which would be more expensive, and if I need to pay one to show up in court, it would also be more pricey.

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    Well that's what 99% private security does, so, yes, of course. – 27096 Sep 14 at 21:20
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    One obvious issue is that this witness might not have much credibility in court, as a judge or jury may think they have a conflict of interest due to being paid by one party to the case. – Nate Eldredge Sep 14 at 22:03
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    Incidentally, if you really think this has a chance of becoming a legal case, talk to a lawyer before trying any stunts like this. (The people on this site are mostly not lawyers, and certainly not your lawyers.) – Nate Eldredge Sep 14 at 22:07
  • John - That's a good point about the role of security. Also makes me think of public notaries, who would seem to be doing a very similar thing, in essence. I can see how Nate's point might come into play, but I also see that if there's no other relation to the person hired, in a one-off capacity, then it might be difficult to make the case that they'd be willing to state anything but the truth. Thank you both for your insights. – Brian FWD Sep 16 at 19:57

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