Friction Ridge Analysis
& Applying Daubert to
Latent Fingerprint Identification
Written & Compiled By: Thomas J. Ferriola
Sebastian Police Department, Florida
Is The Study of Fingerprints a Science?
spite of the fact that the early pioneers clearly considered fingerprint
identification a science, an attitude has developed during the last
century in some (but not all) regions of the world that fingerprint
identification is not science.
Fingerprint identification is based on two
primary factors, uniqueness and permanence. On that, we all
agree. But in order to truly understand these factors and not just
simply parrot some dogmatic explanation, one must understand both human
fetal development of friction skin, in that fingerprints form in an
embryo during the third and forth months of fetal life. Although skin
covers the entire body, only the fingers and palms of the hands, and the
toes and soles of the feet are ridged and called friction skin. Friction
skin will remain on the fingers, palms, toes and soles until the skin
decomposes after death (the
foundation of uniqueness) and in addition understand the subsurface
structure of human friction skin (the basis for permanence).
This requires some fundamental study of human biological sciences. Thus,
the basis for fingerprint identification is firmly rooted in science.
however, fingerprint identification can not be considered an “exact”
science in the same way as, say, mathematics, in which exact numbers or
measurements are used to express results. Further, fingerprints can not
be considered a “descriptive” science such as, say, ornithology, which
identifies a particular species of bird, but not an individual within
Rather, fingerprint identification falls into a category we call applied
science. That is, we apply scientific knowledge and principles to
real--life problems to arrive at conclusions. This application gives
scientific validity to the conclusions. The powerful evidential value of
fingerprint identification has its foundation in this scientific
validity. Without it, no fingerprint identification is anything more
than the rendering of an educated guess.
Fingerprint identification is also frequently referred to as a forensic
science. The word “forensic” simply denotes the use of the discipline in
court proceedings. Since fingerprint identification is employed
primarily for use in legal situations, it is correctly designated as a
Description of fingerprint identification as a “forensic science” or an
“applied science” in no way implies that it is not a reliable science.
It is an understanding of all of the related scientific principles and
their correct application that yield accurate, valid results in any
fingerprint comparison. Fingerprint identification, correctly understood
and applied, is just as scientifically valid and reliable as any other
science and, indeed, more accurate than many.
A characteristic of any field of science is that of allowing the
practitioner to make precise statements within the discipline that may
be checked or verified by other qualified persons.(1)
This is true in “exact” sciences, “descriptive” sciences, and it is
also true in “applied” sciences. The fingerprint expert applies
knowledge gained through training and experience to reach a conclusion.
From the earliest days of fingerprint identification, verification has
been recognized as an important part of the process.
The designation “applied science” extends beyond just the biological
foundation of identification, explained as uniqueness and permanence. In
order for any identification to be scientifically valid, the entire
process of making the identification from start to finish must meet the
tests of science. If any element fails to meet scientific standards,
then the validity of the identification falls into question.
concept of “Ridgeology” was sparked originally from the realization that
most fingerprint examiners have had only disjointed training in both the
scientific foundation and the scientific application of identification
Ridgeology is not, as some people mistakenly believe, making
risky identifications based on poroscopy and edgeoscopy. Rather, the
term “ridgeology” should be thought of as an umbrella that covers every
conceivable related science and concept to the extent that each has
application in fingerprint identification.
That said, both poroscopy (Edmund Locard, 1912)(4) and
edgeoscopy (Salil Kumar Chatterjee, 1962),(5)
are topics studied by serious students of ridgeology. The shapes and
relative positions of sweat pores and the shapes of the edges of the
ridges have their origin in fetal development and their physical roots
deep in the subsurface structure of the skin. Through study of these
features, their formation on the fetus, and their foundation in the
dermis and the basal layer of the epidermis, it has been learned that
they, like traditional minutiae points, are permanent and unique. And
when understood, like minutiae points, they add weight to the conclusion
To ignore sweat pores and edge shapes when they are present is to ignore
part of the valid information in the total image. This is by no means to
suggest that an expert should ignore the minutiae points and concentrate
on the pores and edge shapes. It is simply to say that one must consider
all of the information present in both the latent print (or mark)
and the inked print. Traditional minutiae points are still the backbone
of most comparisons.
In a truly scientific comparison, however, one accepts the idea that not
all features in a fingerprint are exactly equal in the weight they
contribute to the identification. Some features contribute more to the
conclusion, others less. Some features may weigh as a grain of sand when
tested on the scale, others may weigh as a cobblestone. In ridgeology,
it is up to the expert doing the comparison to determine the relative
weight of each feature. The expert makes that determination based upon
training and experience.
Clearly, then, one can never have too much training. Study should be an
ongoing endeavor of the serious, professional expert. Likewise, one's
judgment improves with experience in the comparison of fingerprints.
But no expert should ever extend an opinion beyond scientific
understanding and justification. It is up to the expert doing the
comparison to determine what may be used and what may not, and further,
to determine what relative weight to give each feature represented in
each image. Therefore, if the expert does not have a basis for
understanding the permanence and uniqueness of a feature or if the
expert cannot account for a feature, then the expert cannot give any
consideration to that feature in making an identification. No expert
should ever give weight to any feature he or she does not understand or
is not able to defend in court.
This whole idea of ridgeology, that is, a scientific examination
accompanied by accountability on the part of the examiner, may be
frightening to some. It means that it is not sufficient to simply count
to some magic number and hide behind dogma in making an identification.
In ridgeology, the expert must actually understand the basis for
identification and be able to account completely for each
The much simpler, much easier, but less valid idea of a threshold limit
for identification began with Sir Francis Galton. In his book, Finger
Prints, in 1892(6) Galton
proposed a statistical model that divided an entire inked fingerprint
into a grid of 35 squares. Galton calculated probabilities based on the
presence or absence of minutiae points in each grid area and concluded
that the odds of two people having points in the same squares when all
35 are considered is one in 2 to the 47th power.
Galton's model overlooked any consideration of the direction of ridge
flow in any of the 35 grid areas and took into account only whether or
not a minutiae point was present in any given square. Obviously,
Galton's model completely ignored not only ridge flow, but also the
shapes of the ridges, the presence of prominent sweat pores, scars,
creases or wrinkles, incipient ridges, etc(7).
(Yes, scars, creases and wrinkles,(8)
etc. also have a foundation in biology for permanence and uniqueness.)
Thus, Galton's model was sorely lacking in many respects.
Since Galton's time, numerous researchers, both fingerprint examiners
and statisticians alike, have proposed new models and refined previous
models in an attempt to arrive at a reliable “point” threshold for
identification. Ultimately, however, all have failed to arrive at a
model accurate in all respects. This is because the minute variations of
shape within friction skin are infinite. No model can completely capture
all of the possible shapes and features present in an area of friction
Counter to the idea of statistical modeling as the definitive tool of
identification, many prominent scientists during the Twentieth Century
have added to our understanding of biological uniqueness. Most prominent
among these are Wentworth & Wilder in 1918
Cummins and Midlo in 1943,(11)
Hale in 1952,(12)
Holt in 1968,(13)
and Montagna & Parakhal in 1974.(14)
Most recently, Dr. William Babler has added significantly to our
understanding of the growth of friction ridge skin on the developing
fetus.(15) The work
of all of these scientists and many others belongs under the umbrella of
The history of friction ridge and Scientific Researchers about
fingerprint history, is of far more importance for it is here that
science makes itself known in the scheme of friction ridge
identification. Here we learn that the ridges are unique and are so
through differential growth. To mention four important researchers,
Whipple (although much of her work has been superseded), Wilder,
Cummins, and Hale.
In addition other things, Dr. Inez Whipple found that all mammals have
the same morphological arrangements on the hands and feet. She further
explains the evolutionary process of friction ridges and explained the
growth of ridge units, that patterns were affected by external forces
and pressure from neighboring developing ridges. She found that ridges
form at right angles to the possible direction of a contact surface and
its shape. From Whipple's work, we are taken to Harris Hawthorne Wilder
who found the relationship between friction ridges and the volar pads.
He describes the ridge units which are subjected to differential growth
and as a result, are unique.
Harold Cummins was a Professor of Anatomy at Tulane University, USA. He
discovered that volar pad regression takes place at the same time as
ridge formation and that disease or birth defects may interfere with pad
development, and may also affect friction ridges. Cummins stated,
“...the alignments of these ridges are as responsive to stresses in
growth as are the alignments of sand to sweeping by wind or wave.”
Alfred Hale was an associate of Cummins and wrote an important paper
“Morphogenesis of Volar Skin in the Human Fetus” in which he
explains differential growth, the stresses of which condition the
alignment and fusion of the ridge units, thereby establishing the
primary ridge which also appears as a genetically controlled phenomenon;
ridges grow in a totally random fashion.
Add to this research, papers by Okajima and others, and more recently by
Karen Holbrook, and we come into the realms of why science plays such an
important part in our identification process; this is knowledge that
every examiner should know and have access to in order to strengthen
their expertise -- especially when giving evidence. There is an
abundance of scientific research on epidermal skin which has been
neglected by the fingerprint service most likely because identification
techniques and science have never before met. The issue regarding
uniqueness does not come any clearer than from these scientific
Standard training lessons on fingerprint history
Pre-historic picture writing of a hand with ridge patterns was
discovered in Nova Scotia. In ancient Babylon, fingerprints were used on
clay tablets for business transactions. In ancient China, thumb prints
were found on clay seals.
In 14th century Persia, various official government papers had
fingerprints (impressions), and one government official, a doctor,
observed that no two fingerprints were exactly alike.
Marcello Malpighi - 1686
In 1686, Marcello Malpighi, a
professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna, noted in his
treatise; ridges, spirals and loops in fingerprints. He made no mention
of their value as a tool for individual identification. A layer of skin
was named after him; "Malpighi" layer, which is approximately 1.8mm
John Evangelist Purkinji - 1823
In 1823, John Evangelist Purkinji, a
professor of anatomy at the University of Breslau, published his thesis
discussing 9 fingerprint patterns, but he too made no mention of the
value of fingerprints for personal identification.
Sir William Hershel - 1856
The English first began using
fingerprints in July of 1858, when Sir William Herschel, Chief
Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India, first used
fingerprints on native contracts. On a whim, and with no thought toward
personal identification, Herschel had Rajyadhar Konai, a local
businessman, impress his hand print on the back of a contract.
was merely ". . . to frighten [him] out of all thought of repudiating
his signature." The native was suitably impressed, and Herschel made a
habit of requiring palm prints--and later, simply the prints of the
right Index and Middle fingers--on every contract made with the locals.
Personal contact with the document, they believed, made the contract
more binding than if they simply signed it. Thus, the first wide-scale,
modern-day use of fingerprints was predicated, not upon scientific
evidence, but upon superstitious beliefs.
As his fingerprint collection grew, however, Herschel began to note that
the inked impressions could, indeed, prove or disprove identity. While
his experience with fingerprinting was admittedly limited, Sir
Herschel's private conviction that all fingerprints were unique to the
individual, as well as permanent throughout that individual's life,
inspired him to expand their use.
Dr. Henry Faulds - 1880
During the 1870's, Dr. Henry Faulds, the
British Surgeon-Superintendent of Tsukiji Hospital in Tokyo, Japan, took
up the study of "skin-furrows" after noticing finger marks on specimens
of "prehistoric" pottery. A learned and industrious man, Dr. Faulds not
only recognized the importance of fingerprints as a means of
identification, but devised a method of classification as well.
Faulds forwarded an explanation of his classification system and a
sample of the forms he had designed for recording inked impressions, to
Sir Charles Darwin. Darwin, in advanced age and ill health, informed Dr.
Faulds that he could be of no assistance to him, but promised to pass
the materials on to his cousin, Francis Galton.
Also in 1880, Dr. Faulds published an article in the Scientific Journal,
"Nautre" (nature). He discussed fingerprints as a means of personal
identification, and the use of printers ink as a method for obtaining
such fingerprints. He is also credited with the first fingerprint
identification of a greasy fingerprint left on an alcohol bottle.
Gilbert Thompson - 1882
In 1882, Gilbert Thompson of the U.S.
Geological Survey in New Mexico, used his own fingerprints on a document
to prevent forgery. This is the first known use of fingerprints in the
Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) - 1883
In Mark Twain's book, "Life on the
Mississippi", a murderer was identified by the use of fingerprint
identification. In a later book by Mark Twain, "Pudd'n Head Wilson",
there was a dramatic court trial on fingerprint identification. A more
recent movie was made from this book.
Sir Francis Galton - 1888
Francis Galton, a British anthropologist and a cousin of Charles Darwin,
began his observations of fingerprints as a means of identification in
the 1880's. In 1892, he published his book, "Fingerprints", establishing
the individuality and permanence of fingerprints. The book included the
first classification system for fingerprints.
Galton's primary interest in fingerprints was as an aid in determining
heredity and racial background. While he soon discovered that
fingerprints offered no firm clues to an individual's intelligence or
genetic history, he was able to scientifically prove what Herschel and
Faulds already suspected: that fingerprints do not change over the
course of an individual's lifetime, and that no two fingerprints are
exactly the same. According to his calculations, the odds of two
individual fingerprints being the same were 1 in 64 billion.
Galton identified the characteristics by which fingerprints can be
identified. These same characteristics (minutia) are basically still in
use today, and are often referred to as Galton's Details.
Juan Vucetich, an Argentine Police Official, began the first fingerprint
files based on Galton pattern types. At first, Vucetich included the
Bertillon System with the files. (see Bertillon below)
In 1892, Juan Vucetich made the first criminal fingerprint
identification. He was able to identify a woman by the name of Rojas,
who had murdered her two sons, and cut her own throat in an attempt to
place blame on another.
Her bloody print was left on a door post, proving her identity as the
Introduction of fingerprints for
criminal identification in England and Wales, using Galton's
observations and revised by Sir Edward Richard Henry. Thus began the
Henry Classification System, used even today in all English speaking
First systematic use of fingerprints
in the U.S. by the New York Civil Service Commission for testing. Dr.
Henry P. DeForrest pioneers U.S. fingerprinting.
The New York State Prison system began
the first systematic use of fingerprints in U.S. for criminals.
The use of fingerprints began in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in
Kansas, and the St. Louis Police Department. They were assisted by a
Sergeant from Scotland Yard who had been on duty at the St. Louis
Exposition guarding the British Display.
1905 saw the use of fingerprints for
the U.S. Army. Two years later the U.S. Navy started, and was joined the
next year by the Marine Corp. During the next 25 years more and more law
enforcement agencies join in the use of fingerprints as a means of
personal identification. Many of these agencies began sending copies of
their fingerprint cards to the National Bureau of Criminal
Identification, which was established by the International Association
of Police Chiefs.
in 1918 when Edmond Locard wrote that if 12 points (Galton's Details)
were the same between two fingerprints, it would suffice as a positive
identification. This is where the often quoted (12 points) originated.
Be aware though, there is "NO" required number of points necessary for
an identification. Some countries have set their own standards which do
include a minimum number of points, but not in the United States.
In 1924, an act of congress
established the Identification Division of the F.B.I.. The National
Bureau and Leavenworth consolidated to form the nucleus of the F.B.I.
the F.B.I. had processed 100 million fingerprint cards in manually
maintained files; and by 1971, 200 million cards.
With the introduction of AFIS technology, the files were split into
computerized criminal files and manually maintained civil files. Many
of the manual files were duplicates though, the records actually
represented somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 million criminals,
and an unknown number of individuals in the civil files.
In 1999, the FBI plans to stop using paper fingerprint cards (at least
for the newly arriving civil fingerprints) inside their new Integrated
AFIS (IAFIS) site at Clarksburg, WV. IAFIS will initially have
individual computerized fingerprint records for approximately 33 million
criminals. Old paper fingerprint cards for the civil files are still
manually maintained in a warehouse facility (rented shopping center
space) in Fairmont, WV. Since the Gulf War, most military fingerprint
enlistment cards received have been filed only alphabetically by name...
the FBI hopes to someday classify and file these cards so they can be of
value for unknown casualty (or amnesiac) identification (when no
passenger/victim list from a flight, etc., is known).
Why Fingerprint Identification?
Fingerprints offer an infallible means
of personal identification. That is the essential explanation for their
having supplanted other methods of establishing the identities of
criminals reluctant to admit previous arrests. Other personal
characteristics change - fingerprints do not.
earlier civilizations, branding and even maiming were used to mark the
criminal for what he was. The thief was deprived of the hand which
committed the thievery. The Romans employed the tattoo needle to
identify and prevent desertion of mercenary soldiers.
More recently, law enforcement officers with extraordinary visual
memories, so-called "camera eyes," identified old offenders by sight.
Photography lessened the burden on memory but was not the answer to the
criminal identification problem. Personal appearances change.
Around 1870 a French anthropologist devised a system to measure and
record the dimensions of certain bony parts of the body. These
measurements were reduced to a formula which, theoretically, would apply
only to one person and would not change during his/her adult life.
This Bertillon System, named after its inventor, Alphonse Bertillon, was
generally accepted for thirty years. But it never recovered from the
events of 1903, when a man named Will West was sentenced to the U.S.
Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. You see, there was already a
prisoner at the penitentiary at the time, whose Bertillon measurements
were nearly exact, and his name was William West.
Upon an investigation, there were indeed two men. They looked exactly
alike, but were allegedly not related. Their names were Will and William
West respectively. Their Bertillon measurements were close enough to
identify them as the same person. However, a fingerprint comparison
quickly and correctly identified them as two different people. The West
men were apparently identical twin brothers per indications in later
discovered prison records citing correspondence from the same immediate
is that human friction ridge skin is unique. One empirical way of
grasping this concept is to start with the premise that the friction
ridge skin on a whole fingertip is unique. That is to say, no two people
now living, or who ever have lived, or who ever will live, can have
exactly the same minute details of the friction ridge skin across the
whole surface of a fingertip. If that fact is accepted, then one must
accept that, if a fingertip were cut in half, each half would still be
unique; half of unique must still be unique. Slice again the remaining
half a finger, and still there is uniqueness; one--fourth of unique is
still unique. At no point in the division process does some small
fraction of uniqueness cease to be unique. Our ability to discern that
uniqueness will undoubtedly falter at some point, but the skin itself,
even in a very small area, remains unique. \
The shapes and features present on any area of friction skin are
impossible to completely quantify. Probabilities cannot be accurately
calculated. Any predetermined point threshold fails to provide for a
reliable basis of identification unless the number is set so high that a
substantial percentage of valid identifications go unclaimed by virtue
of failing to meet the threshold.
Another problem with establishing a threshold limit for identification
is the fact that a latent print or mark results from friction ridge skin
touching and depositing some contaminant on a surface. No touch of a
surface can be completely free of distorting influences. We do not
compare skin to skin to establish identity; rather, we compare image to
image to determine if the two images originated with the same source,
i.e., the same area of friction skin. Each image, usually one a latent
print and the other an inked print, is subject to numerous sources of
distortion affecting interpretation of the image. The consequence of
distortion is that no two touches can have, in all regards, exactly the
same distorting factors affecting the prints or images that are being
Therefore, the degree of clarity in the resulting print is a factor in
its potential value for identification. As the clarity of a print
decreases, the actual physical area or number of features required for
making an identification increases.(17)
Most examiners would agree that, in general, fewer matching “points”
are necessary to form an opinion with a very clear print than with a
badly smudged print. That is because, even subconsciously, the human
brain uses the finer detail, i.e., the shapes, in reaching a conclusion.
Along with the consideration of clarity comes the concept of tolerance.
The greater the clarity of an image, the lower the level of tolerance
one can allow for differences in appearance between the latent and inked
prints. Conversely, the less clarity, the greater the tolerance one
would have to allow. But at the same time, as clarity goes down and
tolerance goes up, so must the physical size of the print or the number
of features to conclude a positive identification.(18)
International bodies of experts have studied the subject of point
standards and issued consensus reports to the effect that no valid
threshold limit exists. In 1973, the report of the Standardization
Committee of the International Association for Identification resulted
in the adoption by the IAI of Resolution VII, which stated:
International Association for Identification assembled in its 58th
Annual Conference at Jackson, Wyoming, this First Day of August, 1973,
based upon a three--year study by its Standardization Committee, hereby
states that no valid basis exists at this time for requiring that a
pre--determined minimum number of friction ridge characteristics must be
present in two impressions in order to establish positive
identification. The foregoing reference to friction ridge
characteristics applies equally to fingerprints, palm prints, toe prints
and sole prints of the human body.(19)
More recently, at a symposium attended by approximately one hundred
recognized fingerprint experts from around the world and hosted by the
Israel National Police in 1995, the “Ne'urim Declaration” was adopted by
the fingerprint examiners assembled, stating: No scientific basis exists
for requiring that a pre--determined minimum number of friction ridge
features must be present in two impressions in order to establish a
Comparison of fingerprints for purposes
of identification focuses on three different levels of details.
Level One ( Ridge Flow & Class Characteristics) is the
largest scale of information, such as the general type of the central
area of the fingerprint, such as an arch, whorl, or loop. Other level
one details may include such matters as the overall ridge count, focal
areas of the print, such as "delta regions" (roughly triangular shaped
areas where ridges flowing in different directions meet), and the
orientation of the print. Showing that level one details are identical
is not enough to make an identification of the finger that is the source
of a latent print.
Level Two (Ridge Characteristics or Points) detail
focuses on the characteristics of ridge paths, such as places where
ridges bifurcate or end or create dots or islands. These features
provide a great deal of detail. Each feature can be identified in terms
of the type of feature (end, bifurcation, etc.), its direction, and its
location with respect to other identifiable features in the print. Level
two detail can be used to identify one individual finger from among the
entire human population as the source of the latent print.
Level Three ( Ridge Structure ) detail
can be described as "ridge detail," with such tiny features as pores on
a ridge and the width and shape of the ridge itself and its edges. These
level three details are the most vulnerable to problems with the quality
of the latent print. They are so small that a clear, high quality image
is needed to make accurate comparisons. When the latent print is
sufficiently clear, level three detail can contribute to the
identification of the source of a latent print.
The Justice Department, FBI uses and has adopted a standard method a
fingerprint examiner goes through. It is a four-step
process with the acronym "ACE-V," for analysis,
comparison, evaluation, and verification, and focusing on
Level one, Level two and Level three details
The first phase is analysis. Analysis is a
thorough examination of the unknown. In the
case of fingerprints, the latent print would be examined to determine
the ridge formations that exist at three levels of detail. “Level one
detail” refers to the first appearance of the print noticed at the
beginning of an examination. Generally, “Level one” refers to the
overall pattern or ridge flow tendencies of the print. “Level two
detail” refers to the next features observed, generally those with a
physical dimension on the order of magnitude of a ridge width. The
so--called “Minutiae” or “points,” are level two detail. “Level three
detail” refers to smaller features generally observed under
magnification. Level three features are normally contained within a
single ridge, such as shapes and positions of sweat pores (poroscopy) or
distinctive shapes on the edge of a ridge (edgeoscopy). Incipient ridge
shapes are also usually considered level three details, but the presence
of incipient ridges in general would be a level one consideration. A
large scar might be considered as level one detail, whereas a small scar
might only be observed at level two. Within a scar there may be valuable
level three detail. A thorough analysis of the unknown consists of far
more than simply looking at the minutiae points.
Another part of the analysis of a
latent print is the assessment of all of the various causes of
distortion and their effect upon the print. Distortion could result from
a number of sources, including the matrix, or residue, which comprises
the print; the substrate, or surface, on which the print was left; the
direction of touch; the pressure of the touch; reaction of the matrix
with the development medium; and so on. All of these factors should be
assessed during the analysis of the latent print.
Analysis also takes into consideration the clarity of the print. Clarity
differences result from distortion. A latent print lacking level three
detail as a result of pressure distortion, for example, might be
described as having a low degree of clarity, whereas a print showing
good pore and edge structure and having minimal distortion might be
characterized as having a high degree of clarity.
Inherent in the analysis of the latent print is the selection of a
suitable target to be memorized and used when searching the inked
prints. Such a target is usually an easily recognizable cluster of
minutiae points. On the other hand, it might be a distinctive scar, a
prominent crease or wrinkle pattern, or any other significant and easily
recognizable formation that results from features in the area of
friction skin that left the print. The target will be the starting point
for the second and third phases of the identification process, therefore
it should be both an easily recognizable feature in the unknown print
and potentially the easiest to find in the known prints.
A thorough analysis should be accompanied
by the taking of detailed notes describing the latent print. Notes
should make reference to all observed distortion factors. Notes may also
include reference to the level of clarity present in the print. One
might actually draw the target, both as an aid in its memorization and
as a part of the description of the latent. On occasion, one may even
choose to physically follow or trace the ridges completely throughout
the print and draw a representation of the entire latent in the notes.
This type of demonstrable analysis lends credence to any subsequent
Once a thorough analysis of the
latent print has been completed, the second phase of the
identification process is comparison. Whereas, during
analysis the examiner focuses exclusively on the unknown print, during
the comparison phase the examiner concentrates primarily on the known,
or inked, prints. The examiner searches each inked print in turn,
observing all three levels of detail in a search for an image that is
consistent with the detail found in the latent print during its
analysis, and that has the target selected for the search.
Once a known print is located
that is consistent in appearance with the unknown and contains the
target, the examiner enters the third phase of the identification
In this phase, the two prints are examined together, side by side. The
examiner finds features first in the unknown print, then in the known
print, then evaluates the corresponding features to determine if they
are within tolerance for the level of clarity that exists in the images.
In this manner, the examiner goes back and forth between the two prints,
finding features first in the unknown, then evaluating their appearance
in the known print.
The reason for working from the unknown image to the known has its
foundation in human psychology. When dealing with a less clear image,
usually the latent or unknown print, the brain is subject to influence
by “mind--set.” If a feature is first observed in a clear image, the
brain may form an expectation and be tricked into “seeing” the same
feature in an unclear image even though it does not actually exist
there. Take, for example, in the case of a faint ninhydrin print ( a
chemical used in latent print development ) in which the ridges appear
primarily as a series of light dots. If the examiner concentrates on
first finding points in a clear, high contrast inked print, then tries
to find the same points in the poorly defined latent, mind--set might
easily lead the examiner to “see” points that do not exist. To avoid
this possibility, a cautious examiner always finds the features in the
unknown print first, free from mind--set, then locates and evaluates the
corresponding features in the known print.
During the evaluation phase of the
identification process, the examiner must consider all of the
differences in appearance between the two images. It is an accepted
tenant of fingerprint science that no two prints will ever be exactly
the same in all respects. First, any touch is a contact between a
complex curved surface (the skin) and, usually, a flat surface. This
touch must necessarily be accompanied by distortion of the skin itself.
Second, the amount and type of matrix (residue left behind) will differ.
Third, the angle and pressure of the contact will change from one touch
to the next. Fourth, the size of the area of skin coming into contact
with the surface will vary. Any number of other factors may also
contribute to differences, some subtle and some extreme, in the
appearance of two prints that result from two touches by the same region
of friction skin. It is not sufficient to look only for similarities and
ignore the differences, nor is it proper to look at only some features
and ignore others. The true expert must consider everything appearing in
It is at this point that tolerance
enters the equation. Based on an understanding of distortion and its
sources, some differences in appearance fall within acceptable limits of
tolerance. For example, it is an easy task to understand and to account
for the differences in appearance between a print resulting from a light
touch and a print resulting from a heavy touch. The differences in
appearance between a fully rolled inked print and a crime scene mark are
also easy to understand and easy to account for. These differences would
be said to be within tolerance.
On the other hand, for example, a clear crime scene mark with a whorl
pattern having an outer tracing, when compared to an inked print having
a whorl pattern with an inner tracing, would be considered out of
tolerance, even at level one. A ridge ending or bifurcation in one print
where an open field of ridges exists in the other print would be out of
tolerance at level two. Two bifurcations opening in the same direction,
whose shoulders are essentially even in a crime scene mark with high
clarity, would also be out of tolerance when evaluated with two
bifurcations opening in the same direction in the inked print in which
the shoulders were offset.
Analysis, comparison, and
evaluation – ACE – takes into consideration much more than simply
looking at the points in a crime scene mark, checking the inked print,
and counting until a threshold number is reached. It is the
evaluation, that is, the determination that all features are within
tolerance as determined by the clarity of the two images, that sets the
scientific process apart from the simpler idea of counting points. For
that reason, this methodology is sometimes referred to as the
The final step in the process is verification the general
rule is that all positive identification opinions must be verified by a
second qualified expert. The second expert may repeat the entire
process, but the comparison may not be blind. That is, the second expert
may know from the outset that another examiner has already made the
Some organizations do not tell the latent print examiner
conducting the verification the results of their examination.
Technically speaking, verification is not a part of the
identification process. The identification itself takes place in the
mind of the examiner making the comparison. Verification is the
identification process repeated in someone else's mind.
Independent verification, however, is a crucial part of the
scientific process. Without such verification, identification has
not been proven to the level required by science. No report should be
made of an identification until a second qualified expert has made that
verification independently of influence or pressure from any source.
Of course, the most important practical reason for having verification
performed is that it reduces the risk of an erroneous identification
being reported. In any field of human endeavor, there exists the
potential for human error. When an erroneous identification is formally
reported, almost certainly an innocent person will suffer. A
conscientious program of independent verification, followed without
exception, should catch erroneous identifications and prevent them from
being acted upon.
Erroneous identifications among cautious, competent examiners,
thankfully, are exceedingly rare; some might say, “impossible.” Clerical
errors, however, are not uncommon. Writing down the wrong finger, or
worse, writing down the wrong name, occurs far more frequently than a
true erroneous identification. If the most important practical function
of verification is to prevent the reporting of erroneous
identifications, the more frequent benefit of verification is the
avoidance of embarrassment, or worse, false arrest resulting from
clerical errors. A true clerical error should not be considered an
erroneous identification, but department policies and procedures should
be written to ensure the prevention of clerical errors(22)
well qualified certified latent print experts have stated
the results of a fingerprint comparison are far more than just the
subjective opinion of the examiner. In the legal arena, expert witness
testimony is presented as opinion testimony, not because the conclusion
is someone's personal opinion, but because it is a conclusion that the
lay person is incapable of forming.(25)
The conclusion reached by the latent print examiner is an
“interpretation or conclusion by trained individuals after conducting an
examination employing scientific principles, that are reproducible
Regardless of the scientific or technical discipline, the purpose of
the expert witness in the legal system is to interpret information and
form a conclusion that a jury of lay persons would be incapable of
doing. If a person without any training in the area of fingerprint
identification would provide an opinion as to an identification, that
opinion would be subjective and based on personal feelings, rather than
skill, and would sound something like “it looks the same to me.” A
fingerprint examiner's conclusion is not based upon a personal opinion,
but rather on an evaluation of the detail present using knowledge and
skills acquired through training, education, and experience.
Very few forms of scientific evidence could be better described as
objective than the identification of a latent print by a skilled
examiner. This was noted in the written opinion of the Honorable David
Hamilton for the Daubert Hearing in U.S. v. Havvard,(27)
when Judge Hamilton stated:
“... latent print
identification easily satisfies the standards of reliability .... In fact,
after going through this analysis, the court believes that latent print
identification is the very archetype of reliable expert testimony under
those [Daubert] standards.”
Some of the
Daubert Hearings into fingerprint identification are the result of
fingerprint examiners incorrectly stating that the identification process
or its results are subjective. One noted fingerprint examiner, David
states that the conclusion reached by a fingerprint examiner is subjective
because it is “based on the knowledge and ability of the examiner. This
is not a correct interpretation of the word subjective, but closely
resembles the legal definition of an expert witness. Training, education,
and experience are the tangible assets that form the foundation of an
examiner's expertise and are not created in the examiner's mind. A
fingerprint examiner's knowledge and ability can be and is tested, is
documented and can be verified, and is evaluated by the courts and juries
every time the examiner takes the witness stand.
identification is the result of a comparison of the unique features
present in the two prints being compared. The comparison process is done
in a methodical way using the scientific methodology now commonly referred
to above as ACE/V (Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation, and Verification).
The detail or features present are analyzed. The detail present in the
two prints is compared, and an evaluation of that detail takes place to
determine if both prints came from the same source. After an
identification is made, the process is repeated during the verification
process by another examiner. Something subjective is not based on the
attributes of the object being examined, such as the features of a
fingerprint, but rather on the feelings of the examiner, and feelings are
One of the
cornerstone principles of scientific evidence and its examination is that
it is not influenced by the mood, emotions, or the personal prejudices of
the examiner. Subjectiveness is based solely on personal feelings.
It has been
argued that the only true science is mathematics. Fingerprint
identification shares many things in common with mathematics. One is that
there is only one correct answer to every problem. In fingerprint
identification every impression could have come from only one source and
therefore there is only one correct conclusion to every comparison. The
ability to arrive at the correct conclusion is affected by the quality of
the impressions being compared and the skill of the examiner
mathematics, the ability to come to a correct conclusion is based on the
complexity of the problem and the skill of the mathematician. Skill is
that there is no objective standard for identifications is also incorrect.
This argument is based solely on the fact that some would prefer a
preconceived arbitrary numerical standard. This type of standard would
not apply to a unique event and therefore would not be founded in science.
This type of simpler standard was the norm in the early 1900's. The
research into the complex formation of friction skin and over 100 years of
empirical knowledge, validation, and testing have allowed us to abandon
this simpler way of thinking. A numerical standard reflects a lack of
knowledge of the complexity and uniqueness of what is being compared and
satisfies only the uninformed or simpleminded.
are, in fact, many objective standards in place for friction skin
identification. By using the tenet that acknowledges that every area of
friction skin is unique and that the dynamics of every comparison is, in
itself, unique and is influenced by the quality and quantity of the
features present is in itself a standard based on the scientific research
into the formation of friction skin. This standard has been acknowledged
and accepted by the courts. The fact that latent print examiners avoid
probable or possible identifications which lack any scientific foundation
is a standard. Verification is also a standard. The requirement that
another examiner independently examine and verify identifications prior to
reporting is, in fact, a very high objective standard that has been
acknowledged by several courts during Daubert challenges.(30)
importance and impact of positive print identifications is well documented
and needs no further explanation. Yet there is another significant area of
print comparison that is often totally disregarded and considered taboo by
many in the latent print community. This is offering opinions on prints
that lack the criteria for a positive identification.
Although every other discipline in forensic sciences commonly offers
opinions that are less than positive, there is a hysterical reluctance
among many latent print examiners to state any opinion other than the
print is either a positive identification or it is of no value. One
argument I've heard against offering a less than positive opinion in print
identification is that the discipline should remain "pure". This would be
the simple approach, to convince yourself that everything is either black
or white but this philosophy is not in step with reality and that gray
area in between is often too important to ignore.
Let's talk about the criteria for making print identification. The biology
of fingerprints is a science because of the accepted facts that friction
ridges are formed prior to birth; they remain constant throughout life
(barring injury etc.) and the arrangement of the ridge characteristics in
any given area of friction skin is never duplicated. The comparison and
identification of prints is more of an imprecise art or skill, with the
expertise to interpret the marks left by the friction ridges being
attained through training and experience. What constitutes an
identification varies greatly between agencies and even between examiners
in the same department.
Take the case where a latent print that possesses 8 matching points with a
subject's inked print is compared by different examiners. The first
examiner's criteria for identification is 9 points, so he makes a positive
identification. The second examiner's criteria is 7 points, therefore he
is unable to make a positive identification. Is it wrong for the second
examiner to report his findings either verbally or in writing? Many
examiners are adamant that the second examiner should report that since he
did not make a positive identification, the print is of no value. I would
argue that the facts of his examination, that he didn't make a positive
identification, yet he found a significant number of matching points
should be presented as evidence in both the investigation and prosecution
of the case. Let the investigators, judges, and juries weigh the value of
the evidence. How can we expect the courts to take us seriously when one
examiner identifies a print and another reports the print is of no value?
Although discouraged, the Amended Resolution VII/V of the International
Association for Identification allows for possible, probable or likely
testimony with qualifiers. Wouldn't it be better practice to state the
facts of a comparison (that the print lacked the criteria for a 100%
positive identification, however, 6 (or 7) points match and there is a
degree of probability the print was made by a particular person), rather
than totally disregard the print or worse yet identify the print by
lessening the criteria for an identification.
Those who insist on the fallacy that a print is either a positive
identification or it is on no value, are encouraging practices that can
lead to the worst possible scenario, the wrongful identification. Because
many examiners feel pressured into positively identifying a print,
misidentifications are made. Because wrongful identifications are usually
not publicly documented, most people think bum identifications are a rare
occurrence. Unfortunately, too many prints are erroneously identified
because examiners fee they had no option and they tried too hard to make
an identification they could report.
In debates over this subject, the following hypothetical case has been
used to point out the potential value of prints that lack the criteria for
a positive identification. A print found at a murder scene has 6 clear
characteristics and the ridge flow is discernable. There are several
potential suspects and the matching of this print with any of the suspects
would be crucial to the investigation and prosecution of the case. The six
ridge characteristics, their unit relationship and ridge flow all
correspond with one of the suspects and virtually nothing matches with the
other suspects. Could you, with a clear conscience, testify this is of no
value? To ignore this or simply state the print can be neither identified
or eliminated is disregarding the facts and strong evidence in determining
the guilt and innocence of the persons involved.
There's no question this is often difficult testimony. However, when this
type of testimony is elicited, it is because it is usually crucial to the
case. As long as you are objective about the facts, your professional
opinion as an expert is highly regarded by the courts.
The statement is
often made that there are only two possible results of a fingerprint vs.
fingerprint or latent print vs. fingerprint comparison, the two prints
either were or were not made by the same person. That might be the case,
if both the known and the questioned prints always represented the same
area of the finger or palm print; if both impressions were identifiable;
if the ridge detail in each impression was of sufficient clarity; and if
all examiners were of the same skill level.
Absent one or more of the above factors, the findings that a skilled
examiner can make based upon a comparison in order to provide a full and
complete statement of fact should go well beyond two possible outcomes.
Following are some of the conclusions or findings that can be reached as a
result of a comparison of an unknown impression (latent or inked) with a
A. Unidentifiable Unknown Impressions:
1. The unknown impression is of no value for identification or
2. The unknown impression is of no identification value, however, subject
X can be eliminated from having made the impression.
3. The unknown impression does not contain a sufficient number of ridge
characteristics to be utilized for identification purposes. However all of
the minutiae present in the unknown impression correspond with minutiae in
the same area of the known impression of subject X, therefore subject X
can neither be identified nor eliminated from having made the unknown
B. Identifiable Impression:
1. The unknown impression was not made by subject X
2. The unknown impression was made by subject X
3. The unknown impression is identifiable, however, due to the poor
quality of the known impressions, subject X can neither be eliminated nor
identified as having made the unknown impression.
4. The unknown impression is identifiable, and although all of the
minutiae that are visible in the area common to the two impressions match
and no differing minutiae are present. An identification cannot be
established due to the fact that a portion of the pertinent area of the
known impression is not properly recorded (smudged, smeared, superimposed,
or not recorded).
On previously listed section A-3, I might want to go a step further and be
specific about the number of minutiae that match between the known and the
unknown impressions. Section B-4 would be beneficial to investigators,
because they could then take appropriate steps to obtain better sets of
know prints for comparison. It would also be extremely helpful if the
examiner indicated what area of the print the similarities were found.
There could be cases where expert latent print testimony on
non-identifiable prints help the jury in making a more intelligent
decision, however the hypothetical cases given this paper should suffice
in pointing out the value that can be gained by locating several points of
similarity on a particular subject's prints. Usually when testimony is
given on prints that are not identifiable, the examiner testifies to the
number of matching points that are found and the prosecutor attempts to
determine how high of a probability exists that the prints was made by a
Martin W. "Marty" Collins stated
the results of one case that was somewhat different. A print on the
alleged murder weapon possessed several ridge characteristics. One
examiner testified that the print was not identifiable, therefore under
Resolution V of the IAI it was of no value. Another examiner compared the
latent print with all areas of the major case prints of the suspect and
determined the print was not made by the arrested subject. This case
illustrates the value non-identifiable prints have to help eliminate
subjects as well as pointing the investigation in their direction. Many of
those familiar with cases of this nature consider this an example of good
forensic practices by the examiner who eliminated the subject and question
the ethics or ability of the examiner who testified the print was of no
value. Yet others would criticize the examiner who eliminated the subject
for giving his opinion and would suggest he should have been reprimanded
by I.A.I. Needless to say, emotions run high on this subject.
Constraints of time and manpower will not allow us to attempt to eliminate
or find some similarities in every print we examine. However, every once
in a while a crucial print that cannot be identified could be the deciding
factor in determining guilt or innocence.
Displaying analytical judgment raises our discipline to a higher degree of
professionalism. Other disciplines in Forensics testify to the degrees of
probability in their respective fields. Why should the expert opinion of a
Latent Print Examiner be limited or given any less consideration than an
expert in serology, ballistics, trace evidence, impression evidence (tire
and tool marks) or handwriting?
Daubert to Latent print Identification
In 1993, as a result of the proceedings of a civil case Daubert v.
Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S.579, 113 S.Ct.2786,125 L.Ed. 2d. 469
(1993), Supreme Court ruled that admissibility of scientific
evidence would be based on an independent judicial assessment of
reliability rather than "general acceptance" by the scientific community.
In order to determine the reliability of scientific
evidence, the court came up with the following list of inquiries to be
used by judges (the process now referred to as a 'Daubert' hearing):
Has the scientific theory or technique been empirically
(originating in or based on observation or experience) tested?
Has the scientific theory or technique been subjected to peer review and
What is the known or potential rate of error?
Do standards for controlling the use of the scientific technique
exist and are they
5) Is there general
acceptance of the technique by the scientific community?
United States of America vs Byron Mitchell
The first challenge to fingerprint evidence under the Daubert
guidelines occurred in Philadelphia. The case was United States vs
Byron Mitchell and involved fingerprints found on the gearshift and
door of a getaway car used in a robbery.
The defense petitioned the courts for a 'Daubert' hearing to determine
the admissibility of the fingerprint identification as 'scientific'
evidence on the grounds that...
It has not been properly tested;
There is no known error rate for latent fingerprint examiners;
Fingerprint examiners do not possess uniform objective
standards to guide them in their comparisons;
There is not a general consensus that fingerprint examiners can
reliably make identifications on the basis of only nine matching
The professional literature of the fingerprint community
confirms the scientific bankruptcy of the
Latent fingerprint identifications are analogous to other
techniques, such as handwriting analysis
and hair fiber comparisons, that
federal courts, in the wake of Daubert,
have found to be scientifically unreliable;
Latent fingerprint identifications do not have any non-judicial
The defense asked the question,
"Is there a scientific basis for a fingerprint examiner to make an
identification, of absolute certainty, from a small distorted latent
fingerprint fragment, revealing only a small number of basic ridge
characteristics such as the nine characteristics identified by the FBI
examiner at Mr. Mitchell's first trial?"...
The Results -
News Release, September 22, 1999
The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
announced today that the Honorable J. Curtis Joyner of the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, today upheld the
admissibility of fingerprint evidence and rejected a challenge by the
defense attorney to exclude that evidence in the case of United States
v. Byron C. Mitchell, Criminal No. 96-00407.
Judge Joyner ruled that the government can present expert testimony as to
the fingerprint identification made of latent thumb prints found on the
outside door handle and on the gear shift knob of the getaway car used in
an armored truck robbery.
In particular, the Court found that fingerprint evidence is admissible
under Rule 702 of the Rules of Evidence and the Supreme Court's decisions
in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) and
Kumho Tire Company, Ltd. v. Patrick Carmichael, 119 S. Ct. 1167 (1999).
The Court also agreed to take judicial notice in the case that : 1) Human
Friction Ridges are Unique and Permanent throughout the area of the
friction ridge skin including small friction ridge areas, and 2) Human
Friction Ridge Skin Arrangements are Unique and Permanent. The Court
granted the government's request to exclude the testimony of the
defendant's experts James E. Starrs, a Professor at George Washington
University Law School, David A. Stoney, Ph.D. of the McCrone Research
Institute, Chicago, and
Simon A. Cole, Ph.D.
Those witnesses testified that fingerprint evidence and comparisons are
not scientific evidence under Daubert.
Byron Mitchell was convicted.
As of June 1st, 2002 thirty-seven challenges have been filed and
ALL have been unsuccessful in preventing the admission of fingerprint
United States v. Havvard, 117 F. Supp.2d 848 (D.C. Ind., 2000).
Defendant Wade Havvard was charged with being a felon in possession of
firearms and ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Before
trial, Havvard filed a motion in limine seeking to bar the
government from offering an expert opinion on whether a latent fingerprint
recovered from one of the firearms in question matched Havvard's left
index finger. Havvard contends that opinion evidence on latent fingerprint
identification does not meet the standards of reliability for admissible
expert testimony under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,
509 U.S. 579 (1993), and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137
The court has adapted the Daubert reliability factors to this case,
and those factors strongly support the reliability of latent print
identification despite the absence of a single quantifiable threshold.
First, the methods of latent print identification can be and have been
tested. They have been tested for roughly 100 years. They have been tested
in adversarial proceedings with the highest possible stakes--liberty and
sometimes life. The defense has offered no evidence in this case
undermining the reliability of the methods in general. The government
points out correctly that if anyone were to come across a case in which
two different fingers had identical fingerprints, that news would flash
around the legal world at the speed of light. It has not happened in 100
Further, the methods can be tested in any individual case. Any
identification opinion must be based on objective information--the latent
image and the known exemplar--that is equally available to any qualified
examiner for comparison and possible disagreement. A single unexplained
discrepancy between a latent print and a known exemplar is enough to
falsify an opinion of identification.
Next, the methods of identification are subject to peer review. As just
stated, any other qualified examiner can compare the objective information
upon which the opinion is based and may render a different opinion if
warranted. In fact, peer review is the standard operating procedure among
latent print examiners.
refers to publication after peer review, which is important in evaluating
scientific evidence because it shows that others qualified in a field have
evaluated the method or theory outside the context of litigation and have
found it worthy of publication. The factor does not fit well with
fingerprint identification because it is a field that has developed
primarily for forensic purposes. The purpose of the publication factor is
easily satisfied here, however, because latent fingerprint identification
has been subject to adversarial testing for roughly 100 years, again in
cases with the highest stakes possible. That track record provides far
greater assurance of reliability than, for example, publication of one
peer-reviewed article describing a novel theory about the cause of a
particular disease at issue in a civil lawsuit.
Another Daubert factor is whether there are standards for
controlling the technique. There are such standards through professional
training, peer review, criticism, and presentation of conflicting
Another Daubert factor is whether there is a high known or
potential error rate. There is not. The defense has presented no evidence
of error rates, or even of any errors. The government claims the error
rate for the method is zero. The claim is breathtaking, but it is
qualified by the reasonable concession that an individual examiner can of
course make an error in a particular case. See Moenssens, et al.,
Scientific Evidence in Civil and Criminal Cases at 516 ("in a great number
of criminal cases" defense experts have undermined prosecution by showing
faulty procedures or human errors in use of fingerprint evidence). Most
important, an individual examiner's opinion can be tested and challenged
for error by having another qualified examiner compare exactly the same
images the first one compared. See also Daubert, 509 U.S. at 596,
113 S.Ct. 2786 ("Vigorous cross-examination, presentation of contrary
evidence, and careful instruction on the burden of proof are the
traditional and appropriate means of attacking shaky but admissible
Even allowing for the possibility of individual error, the error rate with
latent print identification is vanishingly small when it is subject to
fair adversarial testing and challenge. It is certainly far lower than the
error rate for other types of opinions that courts routinely allow, such
as opinions about the diagnosis of a disease, the cause of an accident or
disease, whether a fire was accidental or deliberate in origin, or whether
a particular industrial facility was the likely source of a contaminant in
groundwater. As these examples indicate, the fact that some professional
judgment and experience is required also does not mean that expert
testimony is inadmissible. It is instead the hallmark of expert testimony,
so long as it can otherwise meet the standards of reliability set forth in
Daubert and Kumho Tire.
In sum, despite the absence of a single quantifiable standard for
measuring the sufficiency of any latent print for purposes of
identification, the court is satisfied that latent print identification
easily satisfies the standards of reliability in Daubert and
Kumho Tire. In fact, after going through this analysis, the court
believes that latent print identification is the very archetype of
reliable expert testimony under those standards. At the request of the
government, the court has prepared this written opinion so that other
courts might avoid unnecessarily replicating the process of establishing
these points as they try to ensure they comply with the Supreme Court's
directive to ensure that all types of expert testimony are subject
to screening for reliability.
For the foregoing reasons, defendant Havvard's motion to exclude the
government's proffered opinion testimony on the source of the latent
fingerprint on one of the firearms in this case was denied. The defendant
had his own consulting expert on fingerprint issues. He also had the
opportunity at trial to call his own witness to offer a different opinion
or to show the jury if there was any discrepancy between the latent print
on the firearm and the known print of the defendant's index finger. He did
not do so
FINGERPRINT CHALLENGE RULINGS
courtesy of AUSA Paul Sarmousakis and FBI Fingerprint Specialist Stephen
US v. Byron Mitchell; July 7-13,
1999; US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Anthony Golden v. County of Los Angeles,
September 24, 1999; Los Angeles, CA
US v. Hilerdieu Alteme; April 3-6,
2000; Ft. Lauderdale, FL
People v. Torres; May, 2000;
Superior Court of the County of Los Angeles
US v. Stanley Leon Obanion Jr. and
Joseph Brooks Robinson; June, 2000; Beltsville, MD
US v. Williams; July 7, 2000;
Western District of Washington, Tacoma Division
US v. Wade Havvard (note two "v's",
not "w" in Havvard); September 11, 2000; Indianapolis, IN
State of California v. Robert Nawi;
October 10, 2000; San Francisco, CA
State of Georgia vs. Jeffrey Vincent McGee;
October 27, 2000; Carrollton, GA
US v. William Baker, et al;
November 13, 2000; Washington D.C.
US v. Graham Rogers; December 6-7,
2000; Richmond, North Carolina
US v. Martinez-Cintron, March 21,
2001 Puerto Rico
US v. Ahmed Ressam, Western
District of Washington
State of Arizona v. Toribio Rodriquez;
April 24 - May 7, 2001, Tucson, Arizona
State of California v. David Ake; May
7, 2001; Butte County, CA
US v. Sydney Joseph, May 14, 2001,
US District Court, Eastern District of LA
US v. Deago Lance Cheshier, June
1, 2001; Indianapolis, IN
US v. Justin Gabriel Hernandez,
July 24, 2001, US District Court for the District of Nebraska
US v. Donald REAUX, September 21,
2001 Eastern District of Louisiana
U.S. v. Alberto Martinez-Lopez,
October 4, 2001, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of
State of New York .v Hyatt,
October 10, 2001, Supreme Court of the State of NY, County of Kings
US v. Gary Ramsey, October 15-16,
2001, US District Court, Eastern District of PA
PA v. Andrew J. Vikara, III,
October 22, 2001, Lackawanna County, PA
US v. Navarro, October 24, 2001,
US Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit, on Appeal from the District Court of
the Virgin Islands
US v. Ahmed K. Henry, November 20,
2001, Western District of Louisiana
US v. Dennis Mooney, December 5,
2001, District of Maine
US v. Harry Ralph Neal, January 2,
2002, US District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania
US v. Llera Plaza, January 7,
2002, US District Court, Eastern District of PA
US v. Llera Plaza, February 25-27,
2002, US District Court, Eastern District of PA
People of the State of Colorado v. Billy Joe
McGhee, February 4, 2002, Colorado Springs, CO
US v. Kenneth L. Coleman, February
5, 2002, US District Court, Eastern District of Missouri
US v. Brent Merritt, February 19,
2002, US District Court, Southern District of Indiana
US v. Salim, March 11, 2002, US
District Court for the Southern District of New York
US v. Aaron London, March 12,
2002, US District Court for the District of New Jersey
US v. Jerome Washington, March 14,
2002; US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
U.S. v. James M. Broten, et al.,
March 25, 2002, US District Court for the Northern District of New York
Not evadible at this time.
McGraw--Hill Encyclopedia of Science and
Edition, McGraw--Hill, Inc., V 16, p.114, 1992
Scientific Comparison and Identification of Fingerprint Evidence
By PAT A. WERTHEIM, C.L.P.E. (This paper was given as a lecture, at The
Fingerprint Society Lectures, Liverpool; 17--19th March 2000 and printed
in the July 2000 issue of Fingerprint Whorld.)
Ashbaugh, David R, “Ridgeology,” Journal of Forensic Identification,
Locard, Edmund, “Les Pores et l'identification des criminels,”
Biologica, Vol. 2, 1912.
Chatterjee, Salil Kumar, “Edgeoscopy,” Finger Print and Identification
Magazine, 44(3), 1962
Galton, Frances, Fingerprints, McaMillan and Co., London, 1892
-----, “Palmar Flexion Crease Identification,” Journal of Forensic
Identification, 41(4), 1991.
-----, “Incipient Ridges and the Clarity Spectrum,” Journal of Forensic
Identification, 42(2), 1992.
Wilder, Harris Hawthorne, and Bert Wentworth, Personal Identification,
The Gorham Press, Boston, 1918.
Cummins, Harold, and Charles Midlo, Finger Prints, Palms and Soles – An
Introduction to Dermatoglyphics, The Blakiston Company, Philadelphia,
Hale, Alfred R., “Morphogenesis of Volar Skin in the Human Fetus,”
American Journal of Anatomy, 91(1), 1952.
Holt, Sarah B., The Genetics of Dermal Ridges,
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, Springfield, Illinois, 1968.
Montagna, William, and Paul F. Parakkal, The Structure and Function of
Skin, Third Addition, Academic Press, Orlando, 1974.
Babler, William J., Testimony regarding the development of friction ridge
skin on the human fetus, “Daubert Hearing” on fingerprints in the case of
United States v. Byron C. Mitchell, Criminal No. 96--00407, United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Honorable J.
Curtis Joyner presiding, July 7, 1999.
Latent Print Examination (http://www.onin.com/fp/index.htm)
Vanderkolk, John R., “Forensic Individualization of Images Using Quality
and Quantity of Information,” Journal of Forensic Identification,
Ashbaugh, David R., “The Premises of Friction Ridge Identification,
Clarity and the Identification Process,” Journal of Forensic
Identification, 44(5), 1994.
“Report of the Standardization Committee of the International Association
for Identification – August 1, 1973,” Identification News, 23(8),
“Fingerprint Identification Breakout Meeting `Ne'urim Declaration,'”
Proceedings of the International Symposium on Fingerprint Detection and
Identification, Israel National Police, 1996.
DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO EXCLUDE OPINION TESTIMONY ON FINGERPRINT
IDENTIFICATION / HAMILTON, District Judge, Defendant Wade Havvard was
charged with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Testimony by Stephen Meagher of the
FBI, Chief of latent print unit.
Scientific Comparison and Identification of Fingerprint Evidence
By PAT A. WERTHEIM, C.L.P.E.(This paper was given as a lecture, at
The Fingerprint Society Lectures, Liverpool; 17--19th March 2000 and
printed in the July 2000 issue of Fingerprint Whorld.)
Ashbaugh, David, Quantitative--Qualitative Friction Ridge Analysis
(Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 1999)
Fingerprint Identification Objective Science or Subjective Opinion?
(The following original article was submitted by the author.)
By WILLIAM F. LEO, B.S., C.L.P.E. Los Angeles Sheriff's
Department, Scientific Services Bureau -- Latent Print Section
Jones, Tom, “Opinion vs. Conclusion,” The Print, 14(1)
January/February 1998, p 9. [Available online at www.scafo.org ]
Plumtree, Wayne, “Expert Opinion – Fact or Fiction? Responsibilities of
the Expert Witness,” The Print, 10(2), February 1994, pp 3--6.
[Available online at www.scafo.org ]
United States v. Wade Havvard, Criminal Case No. IP 00--43--CR--01 H/F,
October 5, 2000, United States District Court, Southern District of
Indiana. [Available online
Ashbaugh, David, Quantitative--Qualitative Friction Ridge Analysis
(Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 1999)
Vanderkolk, John R., “Forensic Individualization of Images Using Quality
and Quantity of Information,” Journal of Forensic Identification,
vol 49 #3 (1999): pp 246--256.
Realizing the Full Value of Latent Prints By Martin W. "Marty"
Collins California Identification Digest, March
clpex.com / onin.com
Forensic evidence.com…… HAMILTON, District Judge .Defendant Wade
Havvard was charged with being a felon in possession of firearms and
ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Before trial, Havvard
filed a motion in limine seeking to bar the government from
offering an expert opinion on whether a latent fingerprint recovered from
one of the firearms in question matched Havvard's left index finger.
Havvard contends that opinion evidence on latent fingerprint
identification does not meet the standards of reliability for admissible
expert testimony under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,
509 U.S. 579 (1993), and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137
from Criminal Law Bulletin with permission. Copyright
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