Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac
Sheriff's Deputy was Investigative Pioneer
DAILY BREEZE, CA
- Dec 8, 2006
...Howard Specks was a pioneer in the field of latent prints and crime
'88-90 Triple Killer Finally Nailed
YORK POST, NY - Dec 7,
2006 ...it took 15 years to track down
individual for fatally stabbing three teenage girls in The Bronx...
Police Led to Murder Suspect by Fingerprint
- Dec 7, 2006 ...fingerprint found on the door of vehicle
led police to alleged killer...
Need for Automated Fingerprinting Increasing
- Dec 5, 2006 ...state and local government spending on
AFIS technologies will reach $160 million by 2010...
Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
containing new posts
Moderated by Steve Everist
Blood Spatter Battle of the Experts in
John Vanderkolk 154 10 Dec 2006 05:09 pm
John's Quote about Confidence and Probabilities
g. 901 09 Dec 2006 12:09 am
What are they teaching in our colleges????
Angie 99 08 Dec 2006 08:22 pm
"Iris scan is more accurate than a fingerprint"
Jan LeMay 221 06 Dec 2006 12:10 pm
SCIENCE IN THE COURTROOM FOR THE 21ST CENTURY:
charlton97 172 05 Dec 2006 05:00 pm
Internship in Forensic Science
speer3 346 05 Dec 2006 02:36 pm
Fingerprints is art....ask Di Vinci!!
charlton97 1107 05 Dec 2006 02:24 am
Brandon Mayfield Award $2 Million
Steve Everist 308 04 Dec 2006 12:30 pm
Testifying on a digital-only fingerprint image.
Cindy Rennie 305 04 Dec 2006 12:09 pm
UPDATES ON CLPEX.com
Smiley's on the Smiley Files page! Thanks as always to Bill Wolz, the
Smiley Czar. Contact Bill if you have a contribution to the Smiley
Files. Just so people know... your Smiley's get noticed far and
wide... on a recent trip to an un-named DoD facility, I visited with the
wife of a deployed contractor who has a smiley from our files hanging in her
cubicle. Some latent print labs hang their favorites on the walls.
Keep up the good cheer and spread a smiley!
I also updated the Detail Archives.
we read one of the recent CLPEX forum threads on the Latent Print Community.
Cindy Rennie brings us applicable notes to latent print examiners from the
recent ABFDE seminar.
Judicial Expectations in
Presented by The Honourable Judge
Stephanie Domitrovitch, Ph.D., Erie County, Pennsylvania
Judge Domitrovitch began her discussion by noting that the courts have
always viewed science as an ally in the search for the truth. The worlds of
law and science have been linked since Archimedes used the first law of
hydrostatics to prove that the royal goldsmith was adulterating the gold
content of the crown.
Modern judges measure the credibility of the testimony of proposed expert
witnesses against the standards established in cases such as FRYE and
The decision in FRYE v. US allows testimony from an expert witness provided
that: (1) the testimony is sufficiently based upon reliable facts or data;
(2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and (3)
the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of
The decision in DAUBERT v. MERRELL DOW outlined five criteria to be used to
establish the scientific basis of a discipline before an expert can testify
as to their findings: (1) can the theory be tested; (2) is it subject to
peer review and publication; (3) what is the known or potential rate of
error; (4) what standards control the operation of the technique; and (5)
does it have widespread acceptance in the relevant scientific community.
Judge Stephanie (as she prefers to be called) outlined the kinds of
questions that she would like to hear answered when presiding over a
(1) Is the underlying reasoning or methodology scientifically valid?;
(2) Can it properly be applied to the facts?
(1) Testing: Can the theory be tested? Was it tested? How? Who conducted the
test? What methods were used? How was the data collected? Was the sample
size large enough to be statistically significant?
(2) Peer Review: Who reviewed the tests and data? Were there true “peer
review” journals? Did the Board of Editors scrutinize and test the theory
before publishing? Was it an “informational exchange” journal? Was the
article published without the contents being tested? Are there journal
articles critical of the process or methodology?
(3) Error Rate: What is the rate of error? Was it statistically significant?
What is the rate of ‘acceptability’?
(4) Standards: What standards control the operation of the technique?
(5) General Acceptance: (also known as a ‘Frye test’) Are the principle and
methodology generally accepted by the relevant scientific or technical
Judge Stephanie believes that judges, lawyers and expert witnesses need to
be educated in each other’s line of reasoning and mode of communication.
Judges should be familiar with the issues and concepts raised in FRYE and
DAUBERT and take a more active role in deciding if expert testimony should
be admitted. If necessary, the judge should question the expert witness
themselves or seek the advice of an independent expert to ensure that the
witness is qualified and the testimony offered by that witness is reliable.
The Paradigm Shift in Forensic
Presented by Jan Seaman Kelly,
Forensic Document Examiner, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Forensic
Jan described a paradigm shift in Daubert/Frye
hearings as they relate to testimony regarding questioned documents and
forged handwriting. She noted that many of her comments can be applied to
expert witnesses in other fields, such as firearms, tool marks, and latent
Jan began by outlining the duties of the various players in the courtroom.
The Judge oversees the proceedings and ensures that the trial follows set
procedures. It is the Judge who decides if certain evidence, including
expert testimony, will be admitted. Presiding judges want assurance that the
proffered expert and the discipline are both reliable, and that the
testimony of the expert is based on tested scientific methodology.
The prosecutor presents the case to the judge (and jury, if there is one) by
way of direct testimony and cross-examination of witnesses. It is the duty
of the prosecutor to ensure that the testimony given by the expert witness
establishes the fact that the methodology used and the conclusions reached
by the witness are based on principles of science.
The Defense counsel represents the interests of the accused, and may
challenge the qualifications of the expert, the methodology used to reach
their conclusions, and/or the scientific foundations of their findings.
The expert witness should be a neutral spokesperson for the evidence. It is
the duty of the expert witness to ensure that their testimony establishes
that the methodology used and the conclusions that they reached are based on
principles of science.
The credentials of the expert include their education, experience, training,
performance in Certification and Proficiency tests; memberships in related
organisations, and the results of any case peer reviews that they have
The methodology referred to follows the Daubert model. The expert should be
able to show how the process has been tested, reviewed, accepted in the
scientific community, what standards control the process and what the known
or potential error rate is.
Reliability is demonstrated through testing, but how much testing is
required, and what format should the tests take? Surveys of judges have
shown that ‘proficiency testing’ is the most popular gauge of the
reliability of a witness, followed closely by ‘case peer review’.
Groups such as The Forensic Science Foundation and the Proficiency Advisory
Committee of the C.T.S. (Collaborative Testing Services) recommend that a
nationwide program of continuous proficiency testing of crime labs be
established and administered by a peer group; that future test programs
should contain a provision to render technical assistance; and that a series
of workshops be set up to address education and training needs.
Jan noted that the proficiency testing programs are not without controversy.
Some laboratory directors questioned whether the research findings would
have an adverse effect on their laboratories, while others felt that the
design of the research project did not concentrate on assuring the precision
or accuracy of data collection*.
Jan believes that proficiency tests should be used as a guide to pinpoint
weak or problem areas so that organizations can direct their training
accordingly. Different avenues of testing should be explored, and
partnerships with academic researchers should be maintained and nurtured to
ensure cooperation between the worlds of forensic scientists, academia, and
the court system.
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