Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
News in brief
Tribune, MA - May 2, 2008
... will adhere to when
gathering and handling fingerprints. "His work
in the fingerprint field is exceptional,"
Andover police Lt. James Hashem said. ...
Arrest in '81 crime brings some relief
MiamiHerald.com, FL -
Apr 28, 2008
Dilbert's attorney, Herb Smith,
hopes to challenge the fingerprint match in
court. Who's to say the fingerprint examiner
didn't make a mistake? ...
Retired detectives take time to probe old
(subscription), OR - Apr 27, 2008
In the case of a woman killed 25
years ago he found at least two dozen
fingerprints police hadn't been able to match by
searching hundreds of fingerprint ...
Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
containing new posts
Moderated by Steve Everist
Announcement: Click link any time for recent, relevant fingerprint
clpexco 2438 Sun Dec 16, 2007 3:36 pm
KEPT - Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony
clpexco 4113 Sun May 04, 2008 8:33 pm
Evidence Fabrication in South Africa
Pat A. Wertheim 21635 Sun May 04, 2008 5:37 pm
nlarsen 272 Fri May 02, 2008 3:57 pm
Calls for Inquiry to be scrapped
Daktari 27564 Fri May 02, 2008 12:53 pm
Fingerprint Society - May Newsletter
fpsociety 135 Fri May 02, 2008 7:12 am
Red Button Phrase
Charles Parker 248 Thu May 01, 2008 2:16 pm
You Are What Ails You - Non-DNA Identification
Gerald Clough 159 Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:12 pm
The Man Who Grew a Finger
Steve Everist 334 Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:04 pm
gerritvolckeryck 369 Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:16 pm
Nominations for excellence in the domain of fingerprints.
charlton97 353 Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:36 pm
Two SWGIT Documents for Review and Feedback Posted
Steve Everist 156 Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:13 pm
Looking for work after uni.
charlie 347 Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:45 am
Pat A. Wertheim 4545 Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:05 am
Charles Parker 1008 Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:16 pm
Fingerprints on fruit
charlie 709 Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:59 pm
Aspects of a News Article
Charles Parker 601 Mon Apr 28, 2008 1:15 pm
Updated the Fingerprint Interest Group (FIG) page
with FIG #43. Visit the CLPEX.com FIG page to see this example of
a double-tap from Fingerprint and Identification Magazine, 1969. You can send your example of unique distortion to Charlie
Inserted Michelle Triplett's Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony (KEPT)
#18: Research Studies - Reliability Studies. Discuss this
topic on CLPEX.com - a discussion has been created for KEPT.
Updated the Detail Archives
we reviewed Alex Mankevich's article regarding going beyond repetition in
the Verification stage of ACE-V.
We make ourselves aware of the major network fingerprint segment that
appeared yesterday on CBS Sunday Morning.
Weighing Fingerprints As Forensic Evidence
May 4, 2008.
Sunday Morning: After Judge Disallows Print Analysis From Trial, Experts
Debate How Foolproof Fingerprints Can Be
(CBS) As anyone who's ever read a crime novel or watched a cop show knows,
there's nothing like a fingerprint to convict the guilty and exonerate the
innocent Ö except, that is, when it doesn't. Long the unquestioned standard
of identification, fingerprinting is coming under fire, and some courts are
taking notice. Erin Moriarty of 48 Hours has our Cover Story:
Fingerprints - they are a universal symbol of identity. The ridges which
allow us to grasp objects form a complex mix of whorls, arches and loops,
believed to be unique to each person. Not even identical twins have
Which is why fingerprint analysis plays a huge role in solving crimes.
Once a cop, now a criminology professor at the University of Maryland, Tom
Mauriello says the best way to track down criminals is still the old
fashioned way: dusting for prints.
"It's the most common physical evidence that we find- at a crime scene,"
Mauriello said. "'Cause when two objects touch each other they take on
characteristics of each other. And there's always fingerprints everywhere."
Fingerprint analysis was first used in an American court to convict a killer
Since then, as any fan of "CSI" knows, criminal investigation has become a
lot more high-tech. After almost a century, fingerprint analysis remains a
widely-accepted forensic tool.
But that may be about to change.
"Without question, fingerprint evidence is considered to be, by juries,
actual evidence of guilt, incontrovertible evidence of guilt. And,
unfortunately, the reality is far different than that," says attorney and
forensic expert Patrick Kent.
Kent, who's with the Maryland Public Defender's Office, says that while DNA
evidence is a science, fingerprint analysis is basically an art.
"It's never been tested," he said. "It's never been shown to be accurate.
They don't even have a standard way that they do fingerprint comparisons."
"Are you saying fingerprint evidence shouldn't be allowed?" Moriarty asked.
"My answer, unequivocally, is that it should not," Kent said.
And in a decision last fall that shocked lawyers across the country, a judge
in Maryland agreed. She threw out the fingerprint evidence tying the
defendant Brian Keith Rose to murder.
Glen Langenburg, a fingerprint examiner with the Minnesota State Crime lab,
says the jury in that case was actually being denied very valuable evidence.
"I'm not saying that it is foolproof," Langenburg said, "and is that the
standard, that in order to use evidence in court it must be perfect? I mean
the irony is, eyewitness testimony gets in every time. I mean, no one ever
challenges eyewitness testimony."
The judge's decision in the Rose case could jeopardize thousands of criminal
"She called fingerprint evidence 'a subjective, untested, unverifiable
identification procedure.' How do you respond to that?" asked Tom Bush of
the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "I don't believe there's evidence to
support that type of decision."
Tom Bush runs the FBI's West Virginia complex which processes as many as 140
thousand fingerprints a day. He says the department has been using prints to
catch criminals for more than 80 years, which means a lot of bad guys (and
their fingers) have left a lasting impression, like Al Capone, Pretty Boy
Floyd and George "Machine Gun" Kelly.
Today, with the automated fingerprint I.D. system which stores tens of
millions of prints from criminal arrests and employment background checks,
analysis can take just minutes. Police from around the country can contact
the system and get a response in just hours.
And how reliable is this system?
"We believe our system to be in the high 98-percentile accurate," Bush said.
But if fingerprint analysis is so accurate, why did the Baltimore County
judge in the Brian Rose case refuse to allow it as evidence? Because of what
happened to another man in Portland, Oregon.
On May 6, 2004, FBI agents came to Mona Mayfield's home with a search
"They sat at the kitchen table and the gentleman opened up his briefcase and
he said, 'This bag was found in the van, 20 minutes away from the Madrid
Spain bombing,"' Mayfield said. "'And your husband's fingerprint was on
"It was surreal. It was just surreal. My first impression, 'No way. There's
gotta be a mistake.'"
Just two months earlier, terrorists had bombed four commuter trains in
Madrid, killing almost 200 people. An international investigation led to
Brandon Mayfield, Mona's husband, an American lawyer who converted to Islam.
Mayfield was arrested after a smudged partial print, found on a bag of
detonators, was matched to his - not by one FBI examiner, but three.
"I honestly felt that I was being framed," Brandon Mayfield said, "because I
hadn't been out of the country for ten years."
Mayfield, an Army veteran, had no criminal record and no ties to terrorist
groups. His lawyer brought in an independent examiner with the hope of
clearing his name.
That person, as well, told Mayfield, "It's your fingerprint."
"That was a very dark day for me, to say the least. I'd probably been in
jail in lockdown for over two weeks. I was tired. I was just being worn
Mayfield's family was in a quasi-lockdown as well. Mona said people were
thinking she was married to a terrorist. "I didn't want to let my kids out
of the house," she said. "I didn't want to send them to school. I was afraid
for their safety."
Two weeks after Mayfield's arrest, Spanish investigators found the man to
whom the fingerprint really belonged.
And if Spanish police hadnít found the real source of that print, where
would Brandon Mayfield likely be today? According to Patrick Kent,"There's
no question that Mr. Mayfield would be sentenced either to life or sentenced
to death. No question."
It turns out a partial, distorted print, like the one the FBI had, often
yields multiple potential matches. In fact, when the Madrid print was put
into the government's automated system, 20 different prints with
similarities came up, including Mayfield's. After the first FBI examiner
mistakenly matched the print to Mayfield, the other two confirmed it.
The Bureau has since promised "procedural reforms," but Kent says he isn't
"The problem is, how many Mayfields are there?" he said. "If the best, by
their admission, can make such a glaring error in a high-profile case when
they knew the world was watching, what is happening in the counties, in the
countryside, in areas where we don't, quote, 'have the best of the best?'"
But examiner Glen Langenburg believes this case is not the norm:
"I'm always concerned if an innocent person has to go to jail, of course.
But I not concerned it's a rampant issue, that this is happening every
single day, that people are [wrongly] going to jail on fingerprint evidence.
I just don't believe it."
Brandon Mayfield was released and received a public apology from the FBI -
along with a $2 million legal settlement.
"I was looking at much more severe consequences, and had no idea and felt
totally helpless and had no idea how my family was gonna take care of
themselves, or what's going to become of me," he said.
"I just want to leave it in the past," Mona Mayfield said, "but of course,
it's gonna affect me, it's always gonna affect me. I mean, even for my
children, it's always going to affect them for the rest of their lives."
As for Brian Keith Rose in Maryland, he's still facing murder charges. The
case has now been moved to federal court where the judge is expected to
allow in the fingerprint evidence.
"Mr. Mayfield is not an aberration," Kent said. "Mr. Mayfield is a public
face of many people in jail. It leaves me sleepless, quite candidly, because
in fact it not that it just scares me to death, it's evidence that they use
to put people to death."
feedback on the article:
A few responses to posters:
1) There is no ''point'' minimum for fingerprint ID
2) In any human endeavor there are mistakes - their presence doesn't
invalidate all human endeavors.
3) Fingerprints are incredibly unique under magnification, the extent of
which most people don't realize.
4) Critics of the fingerprint discipline mostly have other agendas than the
truth - that the practice is very accurate and reliable when done correctly
by competent analysts.
5) There is a lot of information on the practice, and there is are excellent
professional communities devoted to the truths behind fingerprint
analysis... those interested in the discipline should interact with
appropriate organizations or communities and refrain from mis-informed
attacks of a reliable discipline.
Posted by clpex-com at 03:01 PM : May 04, 2008
" ...a partial, distorted print," This story is a typical CBS INFLAMMATORY
inference. Fingerprint evidence is here to stay. This guy did not get
convicted nor did he go to jail. He was questioned. The judge decided
correctly the evidence in that case was not compelling. We cannot conclude
from this one case that all fingerprint evidence is corrupt.
The various data in fingerprint can be interpreted by a computer. I believe
there must be thirteen IDENTICAL matches for it to be used in court. That
hardly means mistakes are never possible, but they are extremely UNLIKELY!
Posted by JEGibbons at 01:37 PM : May 04, 2008
Just use DNA.
Posted by headpop3 at 01:28 PM : May 04, 2008
Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony - #18
Research Studies - Reliability Studies
by Michele Triplett, King County
The intent of this is to provide thought provoking discussion.
No claims of accuracy exist.
Question Ė Reliability
Have there been any reliability studies on ACE-V?
Iím not aware of any studies that are published.
There are a number of error rate studies such asÖ..
There are a number of statistical studies on the
probability of two prints having the same characteristics.
Some of the more well known studies are those done by Galton,
Balthazard, Cummins, Wilder, Champod, etc.
I know that different people are studying the
validity of ACE-V but Iím not sure if any of these studies have been
Are you speaking about the reliability of the
conclusion or the reliability of the method itself (the principles within
ACE-V)? The reliability of a
conclusion may sounds impressive but it may not mean you have a good
conclusions just show reproducible results but it doesnít show if the
results are good. For example,
my blender goes the same speed on every setting.
This isnít good but it happens all the timeÖ.itís very reliable.
Specifically what kind of reliability studies are
you looking for?
ACE-V is synonymous with the scientific method of
hypothesis testing. Hypothesis
Testing has been used and tested for hundreds of years and found to produce
This is an interesting question because it implies that
we should have some reliability studies.
If someone answers that none have been done then it looks like weíre
using a method that hasnít been tested.
My experience has taught me that most people asking this question
donít really know what they are looking for.
They are commonly using words that they donít understand.
For example, reliability indicates that something is able to be
reproduced. It doesnít indicate
that the results are good results.
My toaster is a very reliable instrument; it burns the toast every
time I use it. I can try it
over and over again and it always gives the same results.
I can rely on the results my toaster gives even though those are not
my desired results.
Feel free to pass The Detail along to other
examiners. This is a free newsletter FOR latent print examiners, BY
latent print examiners.
With the exception of weeks such as this week, there
are no copyrights on The Detail content. As always, the website is
open for all to visit!
When we are asked about reliability tests in court we should ask
exactly what are they referring to.
Answer a: This may be
accurate but it implies that ACE-V hasnít been tested as a viable method and
it leave the jury and the court with the opinion that ACE-V isnít a good way
to arrive at conclusions.
Answer b: This answer
assumes the question is about the reliability of our conclusions and this
may not be what they are asking about.
Answer c: This
answer is assuming that they are asking about the possibility of patterns
duplicating and it ignores the error rate of our interpretations.
Answers d, e, and f: These
are all good answers but answer e might be giving them more information than
they are looking for.
Answer g: This may be true
but it doesnít answer the question, it just states that ACE-V is accepted
but doesnít show that itís been tested.
My personal opinion is that d and f are the best answers because they donít
assume the meaning behind the question.
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