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Monday, December 17, 2001

Good morning via the "Detail," a weekly e-mail newsletter that greets latent print examiners around the globe every Monday morning. The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important events as they happen in our field.

BREAKING NEWz you can UzE...

IT'S BIDNOW WEEK!  For sale this week on Ebay is the June, 1950 edition of Fingerprint and Identification Magazine which is "in Memory of Sir Edward Richard Henry."  Click Here to read more. 

Last week John Vanderkolk brought us a Detail on uniqueness in nature. We understand that this concept lays the foundation for biological uniqueness and the fundamental principle that skin is unique. To access this and other past Details, visit www.clpex.com and go to the "Detail" page, and click on the Archives.  

This week, Christophe Champod was going to bring us a Detail on statistics, what they can and cannot do, and their relation to the field of latent prints, but due to technical difficulties, that detail cannot be prepared in time and will be delayed one week. This week we take a break from our study of uniqueness and turn toward something very real to each of us; the fear of courtroom testimony. This week's Detail will serve as the first in a series (not necessarily a continuous series, but they may be pieced together for a series) by Ron Smith, Associate Director of the Meridian branch of the Mississippi Crime Laboratory:  

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In this issue, I will be focusing our attention on an age old problem associated with giving testimony in court, namely FEAR. Iím not talking about that slight increase in anxiety level associated with some testimonies, but that real fear that is felt by many who are called upon to give testimony. Many of you know the kind of fear that Iím talking about. Itís the kind that causes you to lose sleep, feel nauseous, get a chronic case of cotton mouth and generally feel like you would rather be any place in the world than the courthouse on that day. Itís the kind of fear that doesnít make you just perspire, but makes you sweat buckets! I have felt it in my own life and I know exactly what it feels like!!!!

This is a subject that is extensive and canít be fully addressed in one issue so during the course of the next several issues I will be addressing several causes and manifestations of fear in court. Along with these topics, I will be addressing several things that can help you deal with the fears that you have. Letís begin by looking a some general questions regarding fear.

What is fear anyway? Is it the same for everyone? What are the symptoms of fear? Can others see fear in me? Can I see fear in others? How does it relate to courtroom testimony training? So many questions and so few answers. Can we really talk about it? Weíre supposed to be trained to handle and control fear, but how do we do that?

The first thing we need to do is accept the fact that fear is a very natural feeling we all have throughout our life. Every person has fears, but not everyone would readily admit them to others. Since we are all aware that we have personal fears, we need to examine how we have learned to deal with them and harness that same power for use in a courtroom environment. We, as individuals, have learned to cope with, and overcome, our fears in other aspects of our life. In other words, we need to bring the existing power in each of us to the surface, dust it off, shine it up and get ready to use it when we need it in court.

Since we now understand that fear is as natural as breathing, how can we harness the power within us and apply it in a beneficial way to make us a better witness? One very important way is to utilize one significant element, or characteristic of fear, which is increased awareness, which manifests itself in several different ways in our body. When we are afraid, our eyes are sharper and notice the slightest movement and our ears are striving to hear the faintest sound that could affect us. Our smell, taste and feeling senses are on the alert for any change in the environment. Overall, we are at our highest peak of attention when we are afraid and this can be an extremely positive condition once you have learned to accept it and embrace it. The witness that does not take advantage of this increased awareness fails to seize a wonderful opportunity that is there for free.

Next time we address this issue, we will look into more detail about why we feel the fear of courtroom testimony.

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  UPDATES ON CLPEX.com THIS WEEK:

No major updates; and don't be surprised about the lack of updates in the month of December; I am on Christmas holiday, and my laptop isn't loaded with the software to update the site. Look for updates to be posted during the first week of January.

 

Feel free to pass the link to The Detail along to other examiners. This is a free service FOR latent print examiners, BY latent print examiners. There are no copyrights on The Detail, and the website is open for all to visit.

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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.
Have a GREAT week!

 

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