Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac
Prints Link Man to Bomb Threat
BLUEFIELD DAILY TELEGRAPH, WV
- Dec 14, 2006
...fingerprints found on a bomb threat letter mailed to the Tazewell
County Courthouse have been linked...
Technology Gives Police Instant ID Info
WA - Dec 13,
2006 ...a quick imprint of a suspect's two
fingers on a handheld device can get instant access to the person's
Lawyers File Motion in Murder Case
- Dec 13, 2006 ...attorneys have filed a motion asking
Illinois State Police to resubmit fingerprints connected to a 1996
Oakland Police Without Fingerprint Crime Unit
- Dec 11, 2006 ...Oakland police department has been
functioning for seven months without the ability to analyze
Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
containing new posts
Moderated by Steve Everist
CLPE/CSI job opening Arlington PD
Pete Salicco 16 Dec 2006 07:07 am
John's Quote about Confidence and Probabilities
g. 15 Dec 2006 04:41 pm
Two Latent Print Position Openings in Colorado
jbyrd 15 Dec 2006 07:42 am
Adobe Announces Public Beta of Photoshop CS3
George Reis 15 Dec 2006 12:47 am
Time spent assessing latents
charlton97 14 Dec 2006 08:58 pm
Criminalist (scenes/latents) job north of Denver, Colorado
sandra wiese 14 Dec 2006 08:56 pm
[ Poll ] Levels of Certainty
Strict Scrutiny 14 Dec 2006 05:21 pm
What are they teaching in our colleges????
Angie 13 Dec 2006 05:24 pm
Patrick Warrick 12 Dec 2006 03:43 pm
Crime Scene Investigator Position Opening
Royce D. Wilson 12 Dec 2006 02:05 pm
"Iris scan is more accurate than a fingerprint"
Jan LeMay 11 Dec 2006 06:28 pm
Blood Spatter Battle of the Experts in Indiana
John Vanderkolk 10 Dec 2006 05:09 pm
UPDATES ON CLPEX.com
updates on the website this week.
Cindy Rennie brought us applicable latent print related notes from the
recent ABFDE seminar.
David Charlton brings us a very recent report from a recent legal seminar
related to latent print examination.
Science in the Courtroom for
the 21st Century
Organized by the De Paul University of
Summary by David Charlton
On December 8, 2006 I was in Chicago to attend and lecture at a
seminar organised by the De Paul University of Law. Investigating the
identification process as well as current topical issues in our profession,
I wondered whether my research as well as discussion of the scientific
validity of latent print examination would receive a cooler reception than
the 5 degrees F outside the venue.
My hosts for this event were from the Cook County Public Defender's office.
Over dinner the night before, other latent print examiners and myself
discussed the format for the next day's proceedings. Dusty Clark and I
shared beers with these legal minds wondering whether we were in for a rough
ride, or whether this event would be less difficult than we imagined. Being
an Italian restaurant in down town Chicago, we wondered whether this was all
some covert way of getting latent print examiners from the FBI, UK and SCAFO
together so that those men with violin cases could enter the pasta house and
dispatch us all to our makers with a quick burst of machine gun fire. As it
transpires the day of the conference an armed man took hostages two blocks
from the University and shot dead three of the hostages before ending his
own life. I can only surmise that he wasn't looking for us!
What struck me immediately was that although we have some differences in our
respective legal systems in the UK and US, essentially we have the same
problems and issues. Namely, communication of the facts between the courts
and the forensic specialists in a way that maximises the effectiveness of
the legal process while maintaining the integrity of the courts. I was also
struck by the curiosity of the legal minds around the table in our work as
forensic scientists. Not to score points I hasten to add. No, in my view it
is basic interest in what we practice and a desire to learn more about our
science. Now, I hear you say, why are you feeding data to a bunch of legal
minds that could later be used against us in Daubert and Frye hearings.
Admittedly I am not subject to these events in the UK, but nonetheless I
have no problem with engaging with lawyers. We should only worry ourselves
about serving the general public. I am a servant of the courts and I have no
agenda other than to present the facts as I see them. It is for jurors to
interpret my comments and for lawyers to use such information as they see
fit. If our evidence is not interpreted correctly then that is down to bad
practice by lawyers in some instances. Bad practice borne of ignorance and
half-truth. That is why I will always attend such conferences as the one I
describe in this piece.
Apart from yours truly presenting my research (I am sure you all know the
basis of my studies with Dr Dror) to this body of legal students and
professionals, well known latent print examiners such as Max Jarrell
(retired FBI supervisor), Frank Sinise (Illinois State Police), Dusty Clark
and Ken Moses were also invited to speak because of their varied stance on
the science of fingerprints and the way forward. I was interested to see Ken
Moses present a detailed explanation on the Mayfield erroneous, I was
fascinated by Dusty Clark discussing the merit of level three detail.
The end of the conference was dominated by a panel discussion between all
the speakers as well as John Vanderkolk who was invited to sit on the panel
when it was known he was in attendance. The questions from the audience ran
overtime such was the interest in the day's events. One particular question
sticks in my mind since it related to my research. I was asked if my
findings of bias in latent print examiners had tainted my own ability to
conduct examinations knowing what I know about the frailties of human
cognition. My answer was simple. Yes, of course my decision-making faculties
have been changed by my findings. But not to a point where I cannot make a
decision for fear of second-guessing myself. Rather, my decision-making
processes are enhanced by an understanding of cognitive influences. Only
through self-awareness of one's mind is it possible to more effectively
The detail in the lectures, while interesting of course, is not the main
thrust of my musings within this article. The fact that very well known, and
hopefully respected experts in their forensic field are prepared to discuss
openly with lawyers the issues at the heart of our science is what is
important here. By debating Mayfield, by debating erroneous identifications
like Cowans and Mckie, by debate on the scientific principles of uniqueness
and ACE-V application with legal professionals will avoid the sort of
misinformation and half truth that leads to Daubert and Frye hearings in the
first place. The science must be 'sold' to those who would misunderstand it.
The reliability of our work will be proven only when we are humble enough to
admit to analytical minds in law and the wider public that we are fallible.
We will only be able to justify our assertions of overall reliability
through scientific debate, validated research, open communication and honest
assessment of methodology and human error rates in our work.
I left this conference knowing that I had made many new friends in the
forensic as well as the legal field. It is often said that we keep our
enemies closest to us. I don't see our legal men and women as enemies. By
engaging their thoughts and by raising scientific debate, we ensure that
they are at least friendly and sympathetic to our science and methodology.
We also ensure that we can begin a process of education and understanding
that may help to prevent Daubert issues arising in the future either in the
US or the wider global community.
"The only difference between a dead skunk lying in the road and a dead
lawyer lying in the road is that there are skid marks around the skunk."
At this conference evidenced I can clearly state that Mr Murray was
being very unfair to our legal colleagues in the extreme.
Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and
may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.
Source: The Evolution of Physics.
Try talking to others about our science and methodology. You may be
surprised at how a little explanation couched in simple terms can sometimes
outweigh all the rhetoric of scientific endeavour. Go on, talk to a lawyer
today and ask them what they want to know about our work. Kill the ignorance
of our profession now and aid a process of education that will not only be
beneficial to the standing of our science but maybe just as importantly the
standing of judicial systems around the world that strive to use forensic
evidence in the courtroom.
Feel free to pass The Detail along to other
examiners. This is a free newsletter FOR latent print examiners, BY
latent print examiners.
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unique cases such as this week's article), and the website is open for all
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.
Have a GREAT week!