''I think Joe's greatest asset," Dan Lilley says today, "is that he does 'get his man' or woman, as the case may be, in the sense that he is able to interview people l don't think any other investigator, any attorney, even I myself would have been able to interview. You take a rape or sexual abuse case where the victim is very reluctant to talk to anyone on the defense team, Joe Thornton stands alone among investigators - and I don't know whether it's his tenacity or his personality, that's his secret - in being able to get in, sit down,and talk to people, who, by the very nature of the situation, can't stand anyone from the defense team. His second greatest asset is that he is excellent as a witness on the stand. His image portrays him - and rightfully so- as an honest, truthful guy. He calls 'em as he sees 'em. The jury believes him." 

What We Do

  • Background Investigation

  • Capital Habeas

  • Criminal Defense

  • Insurance Defense

  • Missing Persons/Skip Tracing

  • Plaintiff/Personal Injury

  • Trial Preparation

"Joe Thornton on the far right with a Capital Habeas Team during his tenure as a staff investigator at the Federal Defender Office in Philadelphia."

Elevating the Standards of the Profession

In 1967, the founding members of the National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI) came together to form an association of professional legal investigators united by common goals- goals to enhance and elevate the profession by establishing a forum and platform in order to provide professional development and continuing education to the legal investigator. In 1978, NALI created the Certified Legal Investigator (CLI) Program, which established an avenue for legal investigators to earn a revered professional board certification unparalleled in the history of the investigative profession. Through rigid examination, oral ethical testing, role playing, statement taking, and white paper authorship, NALI gave the legal investigator an opportunity to be considered one of the highest skilled investigators in the world. After passing the CLI Examination and attaining the CLI designation, there can be no doubt that the CLI is the best of the best!
In 2010, the strength of the CLI Program has reached heights unimagined in 1967 and only dreamed about in 1978. The mere fact that there are less than one hundred CLI’s worldwide is testament to the skill level necessary to pass the rigid and difficult CLI examination. Certified Legal Investigators now enjoy recognition of their achievement in the legal and investigative community, in the court room, and by their employers. A legal investigator can, and often does, receive additional financial benefit when an employer recognizes the added value of expertise after earning the CLI designation.

The Criminal Defense Investigation Training Council

was established to encourage a dialogue among professionals and scholars involved in various aspects of criminal defense investigation. The Council exists as an open forum in which investigative philosophy, methodology, education, and principles of ethical inquiry can be considered via academic training programs, discussions, debate, and writings. The Council is actively pursuing the goals of professional competence and academic excellence via the Board Certified Criminal Defense Investigator program and the Training Accreditation Program. The Council encourages professionals actively engaged in the discipline of Criminal Defense Investigation to join the Council and pursue the designation of Board Certified Criminal Defense Investigator.

© 2014 Joseph D. Thornton, created by the Daily Sun

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