we look at the McKie full settlement out of
court, we learn of another looming controversy in that case in the related
news articles, and Joe Polski brings the IAI Update that includes highlights
of the recent Board meeting in Florida, as well as a call for papers and
student opportunities at the upcoming conference in Boston.
An Update on the events surrounding last week's
out-of-court settlement in Shirley McKie's lawsuit against the Scottish
In an editorial about the case of Shirley McKie printed in
the Scottish newspaper “The Herald,” Thursday, February 9, Alison Rowat
wrote of Shirley, “One long dark night of the soul is bad enough. Imagine
3000 of them. . . . When McKie first became aware of the murder of Marion
Ross, Princess Diana was still alive and Bill Clinton was still in the White
House.” In an almost unheard of development, members of both major political
parties in Scotland are demanding an open inquiry into the mess. Bipartisan
calls are being made for the resignations or firing of the four Scottish
Criminal Records Office (SCRO) “experts” on up to the First Minister, John
McConnell; the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd, QC; Justice Minister, Cathy
Jamieson; and others. Universal demands are being heard throughout Scotland
for an open public inquiry and massive changes in the way things are done
there, not just in fingerprints, but all the way to the top of government in
the enforcement of laws and the administration of justice.
Things came to a head last Tuesday, February 7, when Shirley McKie’s legal
team arrived in court in Edinburgh, Scotland, prepared to begin the civil
hearing in her action against the Scottish Ministers. Up to that point, the
Ministers, through their lawyers, had failed to negotiate in good faith. But
in a move all of us have experienced, once Shirley’s witnesses arrived in
court the other side threw in the towel rather than face the consequences of
sworn testimony against them. The witnesses scheduled to testify for Shirley
included Pat Wertheim, Allan Bayle, Arie Zeelenberg, James Mackay and Scott
Robertson (who had conducted a secret inquiry in 2000 and recommended
prosecution of the SCRO experts at that time), Geoff Shepherd and training
staff from the British fingerprint training facility in Durham, England, a
number of true Scottish fingerprint experts from fingerprint units other
than the SCRO, and even a number of the Scottish Ministers themselves who
wanted to avoid giving testimony at all costs. It is significant that
Shirley’s original lawsuit was for £750,000 and the attorneys for the
ministers offered that full amount in settlement at the very minute
testimony was to begin by Pat Wertheim.
In a bizarre twist, David Russell, attorney for Peter Swann and the SCRO
“experts,” complained on the CLPEX discussion board last week that Shirley
McKie denied his clients their day in court by accepting the settlement.
Apparently, the “Flat Earth Society,” enraged that the villainous Shirley
McKie has won and accepted the Scottish Ministers’ concession that the earth
really is round, has found a worthy mouthpiece in Mr. Russell. Mr. Russell,
in the manner of all good lawyers, has total confidence in his clients and
gives them his blind and unquestioning devotion. One of the SCRO “experts,”
Fiona McBride, was trying her best, even after last Tuesday’s settlement, to
get onto Scottish television to defend the SCRO’s position and “prove” that
the print in question really was made by Shirley McKie! It seems, then, that
the saga is far from over.
Next to come is likely to be David Asbury’s civil case for damages resulting
from his faulty conviction for the murder of Marion Ross, which was also
based on an erroneous fingerprint identification. The SCRO still claim that
identification was correct, also.
The latent and inked fingerprints in both cases are available on the
http://www.onin.com/fp/problemidents.html by viewing the cases listed as
“Second case – Scotland” (McKie) and “Third case – Scotland” (Asbury).
For more details on the case, the settlement, and the results of the secret
inquiry in 2000, each of the following links will provide a little bit
from the IAI Update
by Joe Polski
IAI Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
The IAI’s Board of Directors
recently concluded its mid-year meeting in Orlando, Florida. Full minutes
of the meeting will be published in a future JFI. Below are several
highlights of that meeting:
The Board approved a number of
changes to the IAI by-laws designed to remedy conflicts, inconsistencies and
reflect current practice. These changes will be incorporated into
resolutions to be introduced at the Boston Conference
A report by Candy Murray, the
IAI’s Conference Planner. The Boston Conference planning is on schedule.
Candy sought board direction for conference sites after 2008 and was given
general direction to explore one site in the south and one in the west and
report back to the board with those options.
Educational Program Planner
Jim Gettemy notes that approximately 80 workshops are scheduled. The
registration booklet for the conference should be mailed around April 1 to
all IAI members and others who have requested it.
President Maberry reported
that he had been asked about the possibility of the IAI establishing a
sub-committee and certification program for the discipline of crime scene
reconstruction. After some discussion, President Maberry announced the
formation of a committee chaired by Tom Bevel with members Jan Johnson and
Ross Gardner. The committee will explore the feasibility of this proposal
and report back to the board next summer in Boston.
President Maberry also
announced his intention to appoint a special committee, at this time called
the Standardization II Committee, to explore current problems facing
fingerprint identification and make recommendations to address those
problems. The members of the committee will be announced after they are
formally appointed by President Maberry.
The National Academy of
Sciences (NAS) has been awarded $1.5 million dollars to establish a Forensic
Science Committee to explore a number of issues affecting forensic science.
The establishing legislation mandates that representatives from the
forensics community be appointed to this Committee. In addition, the IAI
has been asked for names of individuals from specific disciplines to make
presentations to the Committee. President Maberry nominated the following
for NAS consideration:
For the Committee: Steve
Nash, Curtis Shane, Dr. Herb Pendleton, Joe Polski
As presenters to the
Committee: Mike Campbell, Peter Komarinski, Glenn Langenburg, Dean Bertram,
Steve Meagher, Robert Kennedy and Grant Boulay.
The Certification Quality
Assurance Committee was directed by the Board to work with the IAI’s
certification boards to develop a structured program designed to encourage
individuals to achieve certification in their respective disciplines. This
program should include an in-depth explanation of the certification testing
process and a clear outline of the knowledge, skills and abilities required
2006 Boston Conference
Educational Program Planner
Jim Gettemy is hard at work on the educational program for the 2006 Boston
Conference. If you are a discipline sub-committee chair you should have
been contacted by Jim regarding program offerings for your discipline for
the Boston Conference. In addition, anyone who would like to present a
workshop or lecture at the conference, please complete the Application
for Presentation from that can be found on the right side of the IAI’s
website Home Page,
www.theiai.org . You can contact Jim by e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (850) 591-2732.
There will be a new session at the conference this year aimed at student
attendees. For the past few years, the IAI has encouraged students to
attend the conference by offering a reduced registration rate. That rate is
one half the regular rate and includes all conference activities except the
banquet. This year, Dean Bertram, the IAI’s Student Committee Chair, has
created a Student Program that will take place each day during the
conference. Presentations aimed particularly at students will be presented
by some of the best instructors available. We are hopeful this approach
will attract even more students to the conference.
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Have a GREAT week!