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Postal robberies bring long sentence
Hilton Head Island Packet, SC - Jul 16, 2008
It had Barnes' fingerprints on it, according to a news release from US Attorney Walter Wilkins. When confronted with the fingerprint, Barnes admitted to ...
Fingerprint match puts joyrider in jail
Tameside Advertiser, UK - Jul 16, 2008
And again forensic teams played a part — this time capturing him by his fingerprints. The teenager, who has never passed a driving test, hit the headlines ...
SBI opens Guilford County lab to speed processes
Greensboro News Record, NC - Jul 16, 2008
The Triad lab will take a third of the latent fingerprint cases that have been sent to Raleigh, said James Faggart, a special agent who works with latent ...
Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
containing new posts
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Calls for Inquiry to be scrapped
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Testifying to Negative Results
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Permanence of 3rd level detail??
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Evidence Fabrication in South Africa
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Fact or Fiction - Will and William West
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Homosexuality: Nature or nurture?
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Use of Nanoparticles
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IAI Conference Topics -
Louisville, Kentucky 2008:
Moderator: Steve Everist
by Steve Everist on Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:35 am 14 Replies 684 Views
Last post by Ann Horsman
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Documentation issues as they apply to latent prints
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New SWGFAST draft
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post by Amy Hart
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Historical topics related to latent print examination
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Jennings or Crispi
by Charles Parker on Sat Jul 05, 2008 3:16 pm 2 Replies 80 Views
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Early Plantar Cases
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West brothers - truth or creation myth?
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post by antonroland
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Updated the Fingerprint Interest Group (FIG) page
with FIG #54; compression; submitted by Sandy Siegel. You can send your example of unique distortion to Charlie
For discussion, visit the CLPEX.com forum FIG thread.
Updated the forum Keeping Examiners Prepared for
thread with KEPT #30; ACE-V - When Was It Developed?,
by Michelle Triplett. You can send your questions on
courtroom topics to Michelle Triplett:
Updated the Detail Archives
at commentary and an article on the origin of the
powder rubbing technique.
we look at only the abstract, summary and "further implications" of a
relatively new 87-page paper by Simon Cole. Those interested in the
topic of latent print examiner acceptance under the Frye standard should
read Cole's entire article for the simple reason of being alert to the type
of changing arguments you may face on the witness stand. It is
currently posted on the Social Science Research Network and can be saved
from one of several download locations listed on that website.
Out of the Daubert Fire and into the Fryeing
Pan; Self-Acceptance Versus Meta-Expertise and the Admissibility of Latent
Print Evidence in Frye Jurisdictions
by Simon Cole
While a fair amount of judicial and scholarly
attention has been devoted the admissibility of latent print evidence under
the Daubert standard for expert evidence, there has been no evaluation of
its admissibility under the Frye standard. This is due the widespread
assumption that latent print evidence is obviously admissible under Frye.
This, in turn, is based on two assumptions: that latent print
individualization is generally accepted in the relevant scientific community
and that non-novel evidence is immune to the Frye test.
Both assumptions are shown to be false. The article introduces the concept
of metaexpertise to denote scientists and scholars who evaluate the
knowledge claims of other experts. An analysis of the state of opinion in
the scientific community shows that latent print individualization is not
generally accepted. This lack of general acceptance points to a broader
issue beyond the admissibility of the evidence: the continuing dramatic
disconnect between the legal and scientific communities regarding the
validity of latent print individualization.
Based on the evidence assembled in Tables 1-3, a general acceptance analysis
of latent print individualization evidence under Frye should be an easy
case. As long as a court resists the temptation to allow the practitioner
community to self-certify its own knowledge claims, the picture is quite
clear. The acceptors include only three scholars, two of whose opinions
arguably should be eliminated on the basis of their being too closely
interested. The non-acceptors, however, include more than 20 scholars, from
a diversity of disciplinary perspectives. While various criticisms might be
made of various individuals among the non-acceptors, none applies to all of
them, not even the criticism of not being practitioners. In their totality,
this group wields a high degree of academic firepower: they include two
members of the National Academy of Science, one of the most prestigious
honors bestowed in scientists in the United States, the former President of
one of the top five research universities in the United States, and some of
the legal academy’s most eminent evidence scholars. They include four
Harvard degrees (the “acceptor” group also includes one). Although the
motives or qualifications of some ofthese individuals may be impugned, the
point is that, even the elimination from consideration of a couple of them,
still leaves the opinions of some of the others standing. The point here is
that proposition that latent print individualization lacks validation seems
to be approaching very closely a state in which the weight of scholarly
opinion, despite all personal and disciplinary differences, is converging
toward a common conclusion. This, it would seem, is precisely what the
notion of “general acceptance in the relevant scientific community” was
intended to capture.
None of this is to suggest that courts must, as a general rule, deem
propositions unaccepted every time they are presented with a petition
containing the signature of 25 people with advanced degrees, or that degrees
from fancy universities should automatically connote authority. Deference to
meta-experts must surely be exercised with caution. However, in this case,
the totality of evidence of non-acceptance, combined with the failure of the
proponents of the evidence to attract any significant support from any
informed observers outside the practitioner community would seem to be a
situation that should make a court very uncomfortable about deeming the
evidence “generally accepted.”
V. Further Implications
This article has focused on the neglected issue of the admissibility of
latent print evidence in Frye jurisdiction. While this should be of
importance to those wrestling with the admissibility of latent print (and
other forensic) evidence in those jurisdictions, the research reported here
has implications that go beyond Frye jurisdictions and go beyond latent
print evidence. The process of applying Frye to a single form of evidence
has focused our attention on a number of important principles that should
apply for Frye analyses of any evidence, including the problems with
practitioner-only evidence, the importance of breadth, and the idea of the
A. Implications for Daubert Jurisdictions
As I have noted above, I have turned my attention from Daubert to Frye only
reluctantly, due to my strong belief, a belief shared by the overwhelming
bulk of legal scholarship on the issue, that latent print individualization
evidence does not satisfy any reasonable application of Daubert.
Nonetheless, the argument presented here for exclusion of latent print
individualization evidence under the Frye rule may yet be of some relevance
for consideration of the same evidence under the Daubert standard. Daubert
still incorporates the general acceptance standard as one of the five
factors designed to limn its “reliability” requirement. Thus, the case
presented here demonstrates clearly that latent print individualization
evidence fails to satisfy one of the five Daubert factors, and, moreover, it
fails to satisfy the factor that it has widely been assumed it would have
easiest time satisfying.
B. Frye or Daubert?
Although Daubert is frequently criticized, relatively few scholars,
principally Professor Schwartz, have gone so far as to argue that Frye is
actually preferable.(228) Should this case study change our view on this
I have long argued that, in the understanding of the scientific basis of
latent print individualization, Daubert has had a transformative
effect.(229) What is probably the principal flaw in the arguments vouching
for latent print individualization—the confusion between uniqueness and
accuracy that I have labeled the “fingerprint examiner’s fallacy”—was not
clearly enunciated until after the Daubert decision.(230) It would not be
going too far to suggest that Daubert had a salutary effect on the
understanding the scientific basis underlying latent print individualization
merely by prompting a renewed look at the evidence after nearly a century of
In addition, of course, Daubert’s focus on reliability sharpened the
questions that were asked and focused attention of the crucial, and hitherto
neglected, issue of validity. That pilot accuracy studies are now being
undertaken, after a century of use of the technique in court, may to some
extent be ascribed to the influence of Daubert.(231) Thus, the principal
merit of Daubert has been symbolic, in compelling various legal system
actors to look more closely and more searchingly at many types of evidence
that have long been taken for granted. But these searching inquiries have
not necessarily generated rigorous admissibility rulings.
As demonstrated above, Daubert’s celebrated vagueness has essentially
allowed trial judges free rein to enact their instincts. One undervalued
virtue of Frye is that, however vague it may be, it is less vague than
Daubert. At some point, the existence of general acceptance becomes
difficult to fudge, especially if the principles enunciated above, against
practitioner-only acceptance and for breadth, are adhered to. My principal
reason for skepticism about Professor Schwartz’s embrace of Frye lay in my
sense that it would be too receptive to closed communities, despite
Professor Schwartz’s and some courts’ efforts call for a broad
interpretation of Frye. It would appear, however, that applying Frye’s
notion of the “relevant scientific community” is not necessarily any more
difficult than applying Daubrt’s notion of reliability.
This discussion would seem to support the emerging scholarly view that Frye
and Daubert are not as different as scholars have previously assumed. Most
evidence that fails Daubert should probably fail Frye and vice versa.
Indeed, this case study shows that even one of Professor Saks’s prime
examples of a technique that satisfied Frye and failed Daubert actually
fails Frye too, at least once a community of meta-experts has been
constituted.(232) The difficulties appear to lie not so much with which
admissibility standard is chosen, but in operationalizing either standard in
an even-handed manner.(233)
C. The Clash of the Legal and Scientific Communities
By showing the lack of general acceptance of the validity of latent print
individualization, this articles raise a larger issue that transcends the
narrow question of legal admissibility: the disconnect between the legal and
scientific communities as concerns the validity of latent print
individualization. The evidence assembled above clearly demonstrates that
members of the scientific community do not accept that the validity of
latent print individualization has been established. And yet, paradoxically,
not a single court has endorsed this view. To the contrary, courts have
tended to uphold the admissibility of latent print individualization with
ringing pronouncements about its validity. As I have noted elsewhere, these
pronouncements have come to stand in for scientific validation when
proponents of latent print individualization are called upon to justify
their claims.(234) Indeed, courts have essentially become the “relevant
scientific community” for latent print evidence, a fact they sometimes
inadvertently acknowledge when they discuss “general acceptance” as if were
something conferred by courts themselves, rather than by an external expert
community.(235) What might “acceptance” in the “judicial” community mean,
other than following precedent? Such reasoning turns a Frye analysis into an
exercise in following legal precedent, rather than the referral to an
external expert community that stands at the heart of Frye. Moreover,
courts’ upholding of the admissibility of latent print evidence has required
them to essentially deem irrelevant the views of the scientific community.
It is difficult to think of comparable examples of scientific issues upon
which the legal and scientific communities stand in such stark and dramatic
disagreement. Will courts continue to hold out against the view of the
scientific community? Will the scientific community become more aggressively
interventionist? The recent formation of a panel on forensic science by the
National Academies, the most prestigious and credible scientific
organization in the United States, raises the possibility of a more forceful
intervention on behalf of the scientific community. But whether and to what
extent the panel will directly address the issue of validity remains to be
228 Schwartz, supra note X.
229 Simon A. Cole, Jackson Pollack, Judge Pollak, and the Dilemma of
Fingerprint Expertise, in Expertise in Regulation and Law 98 (Edmond ed.,
230 David A. Stoney, Fingerprint Identification: Scientific Status, in
Modern Scientific Evidence: The Law and Science of Expert Testimony 55 (Faigman,
et al. eds., 1997); Fred Woodworth, A Printer Looks at Fingerprints, The
Match! 36, (Winter, 1997).
231 Kasey Wertheim et al., A Report of Latent Print Examiner Accuracy During
Comparison Training Exercises, 56 J. Forensic Identification 55 (2006).
232 Michael Saks, Merlin and Solomon: Lessons from the Law's Formative
Encounters with Forensic Identification Science, 49 Hastings L.J. 1069
233 D. Michael Risinger, Navigating Expert Reliability: Are Criminal
Standards of Certainty Being Left on the Dock?, 64 Alb. L. Rev. 99 (2000);
Susan Haack, Trial and Error: The Supreme Court's Philosophy of Science, 95
Am. J. Pub. Health S66 (2005); Margaret A. Berger, What Has a Decade of
Daubert Wrought?, 95 Am. J. Pub. Health S59 (2005).
234 Simon A. Cole, Grandfathering Evidence: Fingerprint Admissibility Ruling
from Jennings to Llera Plaza and Back Again, 41 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 1189
235 United States v. Crisp, 324 F.3d. 261, 268 (4th Cir. 2003). (discussing
“general acceptance, not only in the expert community, but in the courts as
well.”); Id. at 269 (referring to “the consensus of the expert and judicial
communities that the fingerprint identification technique is reliable.”);
Megan J. Erickson, Daubert's Bipolar Treatment of Scientific Expert
Testimony--From Frye's Polygraph to Farwell's Brain Fingerprinting, 55 Drake
L. Rev. 763, 809 (2007). (“The courts willingly overlook the subjectivity
inherent in latent fingerprint evidence testimony because of what the court
considers to be its own ‘general acceptance’ (even if ‘general acceptance’
means within the judicial community, rather than scientific community)”.).
Cole, Simon A., "Out of the Daubert Fire and into the Fryeing Pan?
Self-Acceptance Versus Meta-Expertise and the Admissibility of Latent
Print Evidence in Frye Jurisdictions" (2008). Minnesota Journal of Law,
Science & Technology, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2008 Available at SSRN: (http://ssrn.com/abstract=1023084)
Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony - #30
ACE-V - When Was It Developed?
by Michele Triplett, King County
The intent of this is to provide thought provoking discussion.
No claims of accuracy exist.
Question – ACE-V:
How long has ACE-V been the methodology?
This is the way we’ve always made our
David Ashbaugh developed ACE-V in the 1980’s.
Roy Huber developed ACE-V in the 1950’s.
ACE-V is synonymous with the scientific method of
hypothesis testing, which has been tested and used for hundreds of years.
Your answer will be determined by your understanding
ACE-V and how you use it. Different answers become a problem when multiple people are testifying in
the same case. When this
happens, it may appear that one examiner either doesn’t understand the
methodology or that the examiners are using different methodologies.
As a result, jurors may give less weight to other elements of the
ACE-V may be the methodology that’s always been used but some people
think this answer is a bit over exaggerated. Since ACE-V wasn’t articulated, how could it have been used
methodically or correctly? Another topic for discussion regarding this answer is the use of the term
‘identification’ vs. using the term ‘individualization’ (but that’s a topic
for another discussion).
David Ashbaugh didn’t develop ACE-V but he did introduce it to the
fingerprint profession in the 1980’s.
David Ashbaugh also created the full acronym.
Roy Huber didn’t develop ACE-V as a methodology but he articulated
words to describe the methodology that was being used.
He called this ACE with Verification.
Some people use ACE-V as a simplified version of the scientific
method of hypothesis testing and other people use it in the strictest sense.
Those who use it in the most rigorous application can claim that it
has been tested and used for hundreds of years.
In order to state this answer, examiners should be able to explain
why ACE-V is synonymous with hypothesis testing.
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latent print examiners.
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