I have been reading with interest the discussion. Especially the argument, made by several now, "if the person gets arrested...this may result in a lawsuit..." but most of the posters seem to recognize that it's not the fingerprint person's fault, IF the report clearly says "this is not a positive ID, but the person cannot be excluded as donor". [mgirard's story was great though and a nice counterpoint].
That all said, I have not heard of DNA having ANY of these issues. They routinely (DAILY) report out: the person cannot be excluded as a donor (and may share this profile with 100's, 1000's, 10's of 1000's others). I have seen partial profiles searched in state databases where a list of 10-20 possible candidates are given to the investigator (to Tazman's point: yes they should ALL be given to the investigator if they can't be excluded). I have never heard of any agency sued b/c of a database search and the person was on the list as a possible donor.
Nor have I ever heard of an agency sued where the handwriting expert said that it is "highly probable" that the person is the author. Or a footwear impression where the suspect's shoe cannot be excluded, but bears some, but insufficient, individualizing characteristics Or any other forensic discipline which use less than positive IDs/definitive exclusions....
This is the always the argument that is used: the scenario of the cop that goes off on a limb, ignores what we hope would be a clearly worded report, and just arrests the guy. But at least the reality I know for other forenisc disciplines is that this just doesn't happen (or at least to any degree of frequency we need be concerned with). And the other disciplines ROUTINELY do this. Why do we treat fingerprint evidence so differently?
I enjoy this debate since I get it all the time as a primary reason to NOT use statistics for inconclusive latent prints. The fear that is propagated: the jails will be full of people now who are "associated" with the latent print (not identified to it, but as an example: it is estimated that this suspect and 1 in 100,000 others may share these 6 L2D in this arrangement). As I continue to say.... It hasn't stopped DNA one bit from doing the same thing.
Finally, Reyna. Yes our agency recently experienced this. We had the same debate and scenario you described. We reported "As a result of the AFIS search LPX was compared against the known exemplars of XYZ". The result of this comparison was inconclusive due to the limited quantity and quality of ridge detail in the latent print; XYZ could not be excluded as a possible donor". We did provide the name and DOB of the individual, and I think we also added a note at the bottom of the report: "Please Note, that a positive identification has NOT (in bold) been established in this case". I think we added that just to be extra clear. In 12 years I think this has only happened twice here. I think the analyst even called the officer after the report went out and said, "hey let me explain this one to you...".