No major updates on the website
No announcements this week
we looked at an upheld appeal on 6th Amendment right to confront a verifier in ACE-V process.
Clive Richards brings us news of a free University of Toronto lecture series available online, portions of which might be of interest to some latent print examiners:
(Just in case the links don’t work) Website: www.forensics.utoronto.ca/events
Friday February 26, 2010
Professor Simon Cole
Forensics without Uniqueness, Conclusions without Individualization: The New Epistemology of Forensic Identification
Simon Cole explains that fingerprints are not unique and therefore cannot be individualised. A further explanation is available here in an email response to me:- “Thanks for your comments, and thanks for attending my lecture.
I agree entirely with what you say below. The approach I am proposing would result in the use of more evidence, but that evidence would be of lesser certainty. Indeed, it would necessarily open the door to what are called "probable" latent print associations. At the same time, it would do away with associations that are claimed to be "absolute." You are correct that this would lead to greater use of latent print evidence, not less, but that this evidence would always be couched with less certainty than it is today. As many, including Champod, have noted, this would end the current practice of discarding "less-than-absolute", but nonetheless probative latent print associations.
While I understand the current practice seems clearer and cleaner, and I understand historically why the profession conceptualized the practice this way, the reason we make this proposal is that we think the profession's current sense that associations over a certain threshold of consistent ridge detail are absolute and therefore render it unnecessary to worry about probability is, in fact, a mirage: the evidence is probabilistic whether you know it or not.
Finally, I also agree with you, as I remarked in Toronto, that the proposed changes may well engender confusion in the courts as fact-finders are tasked with weighing the probative value of, say, a 95% certain association, instead of the seemingly much more simple task of weighing the probative value of a "100% certain" association. Again, I would argue that the seeming clarity and simplicity of the current system is illusory because, in fact, the associations are not "100% certain."
So, while I agree with you that communicating the probative value of probabilistic evidence to fact-finders will generate difficult issues that have yet to be worked out, I do not think the fact that there may be difficulties and confusion is a good rationale for keeping the current system in which the probative value of latent print evidence is routinely overstated.
In a sense, we can think about 2 competing ideas: (1) the accuracy of the evidence; and (2) the clarity with which that accuracy is conveyed. As a thought experiment, consider Professor Richard Friedman's proposal that hair comparison evidence that has been shown to be correct only 10% of the time should still be admissible in court, so long as that jury is told that it's correct only 10% of the time. I find his argument persuasive. Compare it to the current situation in which we don't really know how accurate hair comparison is, and we tell the jury something like "it's highly accurate."
Sincerely yours, Simon”
After the lecture Professor Mariana Valverde comments that fingerprint experts are low status people and have a simplified view of laws and science as opposed to more qualified and educated people. We are at the bottom of the totem pole and are hired by the FBI to give conclusive evidence that we believe judges want to hear.
Friday January 22, 2010
Professor Jim Fraser
Imagination, rhetoric and reality in forensic science
Jim Fraser explains that most subjects are not really science and should follow the European model of calling the examination of scene evidence as "Crime Scene Technology" instead of Forensic Science and calling witnessed 'skills witnesses' instead of experts. This would move fingerprint comparison away from a science to more of a discipline and therefore remove error rates, statistical analysis and challenges that no one has seen every fingerprint in the World so cannot provide draw a conclusive finding.
Friday November 27, 2009
Professor Martin Evison
Facial Evidence for the Courts: is it a pseudo-science?
Martin provides an excellent presentation on Facial Recognition, field studies he has done and a historical review of ethic origin and skull shapes together with movement of tribes.
Friday Ocotober 23, 2009
Professor Brandon Garrett
Invalid Forensic Science and Wrongful Convictions
Friday September 25, 2009
Dr. Patrick Barnes
Child Abuse - Nonaccidental Injury (NAI): Issues and Controversies in the Era of Evidence-Based Medicine
Friday April 17, 2009
Dr. Sherah Van Laerhoven
Paradigm shifts in forensic science - the future of forensic entomology
An excellent information session and case study on using insects to determine time of death.
Friday March 20, 2009
Dr. Michael Seto
Assessing the risk of reoffending posed by sex offenders
Friday February 27, 2009
The State of the Art in Fire Investigation
A major challenge to fire cause determination evidence.
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.
Have a GREAT week!