T H E
D E T A I L
Monday, March 10, 2003
BREAKING NEWz you can
compiled by Jon Stimac
Appeals Court Throws Out Conviction; Lack of Scientific Evidence
- MLIVE.com - March
percent certainty is not 'scientific evidence' to support a conviction
based on fingerprint evidence...
Ask Judge to Bar Testimony, Evidence - THE
OKLAHOMAN - March 4, 2003
Nichols' defense attorneys asked a judge to ban an FBI fingerprint expert,
chemist and a tool-mark expert from testifying...
Suspect Arrested Eight Years After Crime - WHNT-TV,
AL - March 5, 2003
the time of the 1994 murder, police recovered fingerprints, but never
found a match...
Fingerprints, No ID Book, No Supper - THE
INDEPENDENT ONLINE, So. AFRICA - March 8, 2003 ...the
future this South African woman's life is more than in her own hands - it
is literally in her fingertips...
Points to Fingerprints to Fight Fraud - THE
OKLAHOMAN - March 1, 2003
index finger could become the latest weapon against identity theft in
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.
I received the following note this week:
Bob was correct in his response that Lightning Powder did discontinue the offering of
Synperonic N. But because the requests increased for the product, we had to readdress stocking the chemical. At this time, we DO have it in stock, just as it was in the 2002 catalog.
I appreciate the effort that Morris-Kopek went through to keep the community supplied, I am sure it was a considerable expense on their part.
If you could just please inform all that Lightning Powder now has it back on the
shelves, it would be greatly appreciated.
Forensic Technical Manager
Lightning Powder Company
Armor Holdings, Inc.
13386 International Parkway
Jacksonville, Florida 32218
Whenever anyone mentions point minimums, I always think to myself, what about
the other information present? As latent print
examiners, we know that we don't base opinions on just characteristics, especially when the
quantity or area of ridge detail is low. I hope nobody would argue it is
appropriate to only consider one level of detail and ignore the others. In
fact, I would argue the lower the quantity of detail, the more important it
becomes to articulate the three levels of detail, qualitative quantitative
analysis, and the philosophy and ACE-V methodology of identification.
Obviously, this is because in this situation, that type of detail must be taken
into account to arrive at a sufficient volume of uniqueness to
individualize. If that information must be used to individualize, then as
practitioners, we must be ready to explain our process and method used to arrive
at our conclusion in that case to a jury. If we aren't ready to articulate
that, I see three possibilities. Again, we are talking about a case where
an examiner does NOT articulate Q/Q and Levels of detail concepts in court to
explain the conclusion drawn from a low-quantity high-quality latent print
1) the examiner has not been trained or does not otherwise feel able to
articulate ridgeology concepts
2) the examiner could explain ridgeology, but chooses instead to use a
simplified explanation: points
3) the examiner did not actually individualize the print
In example 1, the examiner may be experienced in comparisons, but simply have
never received the training necessary to talk about the detail used to arrive at
a conclusion. (in this example, a correct conclusion) Perhaps third
level detail or other features were taken into account subconsciously. It
was known that the print was made by the same source because of level 3, but the
examiner had never been trained to consciously recognize what information
was being compared and therefore did not necessarily know how to articulate the
method used to arrive at the conclusion. So they simply reverted to what
was known: points. They KNEW it was Ident. But they didn't know how
to explain it. The problem is magnified when the examiner is not willing
to let go of a point minimum. The point minimum actually creates a
conflict if an correct individualization is made in the mind of the examiner,
but it is below the minimum. It has been established that point minimums
are not based in science because they do not take into account Q/Q. A
conflict will always occur, or identifications will be missed as demonstrated by
the chart below:
Chart of the INNER CONFLICT when an examiner maintains a set
point minimum (set quantity) but encounters an correct individualization in a print with low
quantity and high quality of detail
In example 2, we are basically talking about taking the easy way out. They
could explain all that if they wanted to, but it's just easier to say a number
and be done with it.
In example 3, the examiner may study the impression and reach a level of
confidence just short of individualization, but there is not a sufficient volume
of detail to reach a conclusion of individualization (based on the experience
and training of the examiner in ridgeology) However, instead of correctly
arriving at an inconclusive determination, the examiner may actually feel
compelled for some reason to call it an individualization. Additional
'external' factors which might contribute to this shift include:
-Pressure from a known investigator that they have the 'right
-Other circumstances in the case pointing toward the suspect
-The inner need for affirmation resulting from a case
-Other respected examiners are holding the same opinion
I would like to see some discussion on the message board,
and I may update this Weekly Detail based on contributions this week. Feel
free to post on the board or e-mail me in private. Also, just because you
e-mail me doesn't mean it's public knowledge... I'll always ask before I
circulate comments, and will only do so if granted permission. John
Nielson helped teach me that. :)
Visit the CLPEX message
board this week for informal discussions.
And as usual, the onin.com forum
(http://onin.com/fp/wwwbd/) is also available for more formal latent
For discussions with an international flair, check out Dave Charlton's forum at:
FUNNY FINGERPRINT FINDS
"Unlike human fingerprints, which are visible to the naked eye and can be rapidly categorized by their swirl patterns, gun fingerprints are
Contributed by Steve Everist
Latent Print Examiner
King County Sheriff's Office
I need a funny submission for next week.
Feel free to pass The Detail along to other examiners. This is
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.
Have a GREAT week!
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