Frontline

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Frontline

Postby ER » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:59 pm

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Re: Frontline

Postby Tazman » Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:26 pm

Ambush journalism at its worst. Forget the 11,000,000 correct identifications and wave the one erroneous* as the red flag that makes fingerprints unreliable in all cases. Dr. Dror's research no doubt has value, but once again his sensationalism makes us all seem little more reliable than fortune tellers or Tarot Card readers.

* Stephen Meagher quoted 1/11,000,000 as the error rate at a CBDIAI in the early 2000s.
"Man was born free, but he is everywhere in chains." -- Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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Re: "Silk purse from a sows ear"

Postby Bill Schade » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:03 am

40 years in the business and now I have seen it all!

Am I the only one offended by the appearance of Ken Moses on Frontline last night and his complete reversal on his part in the Mayfield case?

He presents to his peers at the IAI and explains his error in terms of "less than due diligence" and "failure to falsify the conclusion" etc. and now before a national TV audience he "was right but he was wrong"

Is there anyone else out there who supports the notion of 15 points of similarity between the latent and Mr Mayfields print.

Bob Hazen used to say that there were Charlatans in the business
(A charlatan (also called swindler or mountebank) is a person practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception)

I can now say I have seen one
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Re: Frontline

Postby Amy Hart » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:23 am

I realize it was only a 50-something minute program and I realize that things get edited for the proper slant. But there wasn't a latent print examiner available who could support the science underlying the discipline? There was only an attorney? Frontline is generally willing to give some air time to the opposing view...

And yes, Bill, I found Moses' mien/affect/attitude to be...not what I expected. I was also surprised by the 15 points of similarity comment.

I also found it to be an exaggeration that Dr. Dror is "an authority on fingerprint analysis." And his statement regarding the reliability of other identifications (implying that maybe they're all wrong and we just haven't figured it out yet) had me yelling at my TV.
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Re: Frontline

Postby kimba325 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:10 am

Amy Hart wrote:But there wasn't a latent print examiner available who could support the science underlying the discipline?


Well they did interview Ms. Gische who is a latent print examiner at the FBI, but I am sure most of her interview got edited to next to nothing.

I went into watching this program with hopes....but as everyone knows that watched, it was so horribly slanted to one side, I was feeling disgusted towards the end. The NAS report came out 3 years ago. How about bringing forth all the studies that have happened since than (and in most cases because of the NAS report = thank you for the funding to allow "us" to better our field).
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Re: Frontline

Postby ER » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:29 am

Leap of faith??????

$*\@ !&@*\? $*@)%
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Re: Frontline

Postby kevin » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:31 am

It's journalism - it isn't scientific or peer review or anything even approaching it so take it with a grain of salt. We get slammed routinely and we are in the crosshairs pretty much since DNA came about and tried to take center stage so this isn't exactly new. NAS study was had about the same mix of outside 'researchers' and lawyers scrutinizing fingerprints so this shouldn't be a suprise. A few years before that we had the Llera Plaza and Rose decisions that caused a big stir. This is just the way of things.

Dror's studies have some value in portions of latent examination but to suggest his research applies to ALL fingerprint identifications is bogus and I think he shoots himself in the foot more than anything. It shows a pretty fundemental lack of understanding that you see more out of the Haber's and Cole's of the world more than true researchers.

As far as the Mayfield case goes - what about the elephant in the room? Forget 15 points and forget bias and all of that nonsense - the guy was on a terrorist watch list and the FBI jumped the gun. Spanish police caught the mistake but why is nobody questioning their exclusion? Or subsequent identification of the 'right' individual?
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Re: Frontline

Postby Pat » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:38 am

Peter Jennings' World News Tonight interviewed me on fingerprint fabrication about twenty years ago. The cameras were rolling for 45 minutes of interview. I discussed the whole problem in great detail in response to dozens of questions. In the program that aired, two very short sentences were quoted for a grand total of 7 seconds of air play that fit the meaning they were trying to instill into the topic. I guess the other 44 minutes and 53 seconds of interview went out with the trash when the editor was through cutting.

Some programs portray any topic as a major controversy with a 50-50 split in opinion, even if the true balance is 99.99% to 0.01%. The problem is that some percentage of the audience will believe what they see in that edited version.
The views presented in this post are those of the author only. They do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or any of its components.
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Re: Frontline

Postby gvscottcodiga » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:34 pm

As a Latent Print Examiner it made me sick to watch all the “Professionals”, i.e. a Judge who claims to be a forensic authority, Latent Print Examiners, Law Professor, and others blame everyone but themselves for their lack of knowledge and failure to educate themselves on the what the REAL science of fingerprints is. Not once was the International Association of Identification or SWGFAST mentioned. How can that be? Could this be biased reporting? How can one of, if not the largest National Organization on Fingerprints be omitted from being consulted on a program concerning Fingerprint standards? It appears this program was designed to scare the public into believing that fingerprint techniques have never been validated. Guess someone is vying for that free money (at the taxpayers expense) to keep them employed & doing research. The program spotlighted the Mayfield case as the “norm” instead of the anomaly that it really is. I do agree however, that standards vary from lab to lab, and that issue needs to be addressed. I left my previous job because County Counsel didn’t feel the need to implement ANY policies and procedures for the County crime lab, which opens the door for huge problems and liabilities when testifying in court. As a Forensic Technician/latent print examiner I take pride in my work and feel that I have a personal responsibility to know and explain to a judge and jury how our techniques have been validated. I am deeply saddened that these so called professionals don’t feel that they should do their due diligence in bringing the truth of the science of fingerprints to the public. The Internet is a powerful tool. I would urge all latent print examiners who feel that PBS aired a biased untruthful program, send them an email or post something so they correct their errors and contact I.A.I. and SWGFAST and bring the truth to the public. You can contact them at PBS Attention: Michael Getler at 703-739-5290 or email them at http://www.pbs.org/ombudsman/feedback.html.
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Re: Frontline

Postby RM1023 » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:12 am

My favorite quote was from one of the lawyers saying that judges and lawyers are scientifically illiterate, so someone "upstream" needs to be in charge. But I wonder who can make rules over the courtrooms.....perhaps a higher judge and more lawyers? And let's not forget that the NAS report that he so championed was authored by a judge and was full of lawyers. :roll:
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Re: Frontline

Postby tpitz » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:03 am

Who would believe it? 15 points that matched exactly. 1st time ever. The NFL needs punters like that.
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Re: Frontline

Postby kevin » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:59 am

My favorite quote was from one of the lawyers saying that judges and lawyers are scientifically illiterate, so someone "upstream" needs to be in charge. But I wonder who can make rules over the courtrooms.....perhaps a higher judge and more lawyers? And let's not forget that the NAS report that he so championed was authored by a judge and was full of lawyers.


I think the problem with fingerprints in (defense) lawyer's minds is that it potentially ties a suspect to a scene or item. Lawyers have so many 'outs' (cross contamination being one) with DNA, trace, and qualtitative analysis that are not possible with fingerprints. You just don't have those 'outs' with fingerprints ergo these studies on confirmation bias, reproducibility, is it a true science?, did you compare everyone in the world to this print?, etc. I think Gerald posted once saying if defense really thought the print didn't belong to their client they would simply call one of the couple hundred private examiners and present that in court. But the payoff for that kind of move isn't there so it hardly ever happens. It is more productive to attack the science.

But I think I have a solution - instead of someone 'upstream' to come in maybe an expert could come in and impartialy presents the evidence then....oh wait....never mind
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Re: Frontline

Postby sandra wiese » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:48 pm

In case any of you are interested in commenting on this story outside of clpex, you may post your take on at least the "journalism student gets 'certified' in forensic science" portion of the story at www.propublica.org

They are running a whole series called "The Real CSI" primarily related to the coroner system in the US, but of course with many digressions.

They also recently ran a story regarding how police departments nation wide are being "militarized" because we have accepted free equipment that the military has decommissioned. I know: gasp. :shock:
I keep 6 honest serving men
(they taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

-Rudyard Kipling
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Re: Frontline

Postby L.J.Steele » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:29 am

I haven't seen it yet, tho it is on the DVR. I'm currently working my way thru Giannelli's new article on the NAS report and its reception.
http://ssrn.com/abstract=2039024

kevin wrote: I think the problem with fingerprints in (defense) lawyer's minds is that it potentially ties a suspect to a scene or item. Lawyers have so many 'outs' (cross contamination being one) with DNA, trace, and qualtitative analysis that are not possible with fingerprints. You just don't have those 'outs' with fingerprints ergo these studies on confirmation bias, reproducibility, is it a true science?, did you compare everyone in the world to this print?, etc. I think Gerald posted once saying if defense really thought the print didn't belong to their client they would simply call one of the couple hundred private examiners and present that in court. But the payoff for that kind of move isn't there so it hardly ever happens. It is more productive to attack the science.


It is MUCH harder to attack the science than to just hire a defense expert to disagree. I've had a judge look over his glasses at me and say, something to the effect of "Ms. Steele, are you seriously asking me to accept that what Mr. X [senior guy at the state lab] has been telling me for over a decade isn't so?" There are well-known problems with cross-exam. Having someone who isn't experts in a field try to elicit technical information in a question-and-answer format, while another non-expert interrupts to complain about the form or basis of a question is one of the worst ways to convey that information to an audience of non-experts. And we know from various studies, particularly in the mistaken ID area, that cross-exam is ineffective at dealing with the good-faith mistake -- if the examiner is honestly testifying about what he or she genuinely believes, which I think most experts are, it is really hard to bring out that possible mistake. The other problem is the Mayfield one where Ken Moses was the court-appointed expert and missed the Mayfield mistake too. A defense expert may not find a mistake because of his or her own biases and assumptions -- if nothing else, the expert likely gets the material knowing that someone made an ID, and likely which agency or person made it.

RM1023 wrote:My favorite quote was from one of the lawyers saying that judges and lawyers are scientifically illiterate, so someone "upstream" needs to be in charge.


Let’s face it, many lawyers and judges have little or no formal training in science. And those who are interested in it can’t possibly be familiar with all the forensics, medical, and psychological issues that can come up in a criminal case. So we have to trust you folks to get it right – and that’s why there’s a call for better credentials and accreditation, uniform procedures, independent oversight, validation studies, and a transparent investigation process when there is a complaint.
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Re: Frontline

Postby ER » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:53 am

I think what Kevin was really getting at is that many defense attorneys and 'critics' don't care whether it's a good ID or not. They just want the evidence out of the trial. Look at the Acosta-Roque case and the rogues gallery that signed the brief. They have no interest in whether it's a good ID. They just want it excluded from court. Hiring a defense expert would demonstrate some amount of interest in whether its a good ID. But since most ID's are good, it's usually not worth it to have a defense expert take a look.

But that's just the way it is. Prosecution prosecutes. Defense defends.
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