Early Plantar Cases

Historical topics related to latent print examination

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Early Plantar Cases

Postby Charles Parker » Sun Jul 06, 2008 9:20 am

Taken from "A Third History of Identification in the United States" by Harry J. Myers, II and printed in the 'Finger Print and Identification Magazine' Vol. 29 No. 10, April 1948.

B.C. Wijemanne, Registar of Finger Prints at Colombo, Ceylon, reports an interesting case that offers a Sinhalese precedent. A burglary was committed at the Meaden bungalow in Ceylon in January, 1942. The only evidence of value was a partial foot print of the latent variety.

The print was processed and photographed. A lengthy search was conducted in the file of offenders' foot prints maintained by the Criminal Investigation Deparment. On August 13, 1943, a foot print record was found in the files, whose pattern was identical with the latent print found at the crime scene. This record was found in a file containing over 700 sets of foot prints. The latent print was identified as that of one Singho Appu, a nortorious burglar.

However, there was nothing in the Ceylon Evidence Ordinance which gave such evidence legal standing, although the Ordinance recognized finger print evidence (Here is an insance where the term dermatoglyhics, used in legislation, would be of incomparable value. HJM)

It was decided to take the foot print evidence into court as a test case. Wijemanne appeared as a government expert. The defense contended that foot prints did not constitute a science, as did finger prints. The prosecution's expert offered photographic enlargements of the evidence with 37 characteristics--which were identical--indicated. The 60-year old defendant was convicted. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court on grounds that the evidence was not sound in law. On January 17, 1945, the conviction was upheld and appeal dismissed.


More early footprint (plantar) cases are forth coming.
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Re: Early Plantar Cases

Postby gerritvolckeryck » Wed Jul 09, 2008 1:32 pm

Dr. Sév. Caussé published in 1854 the article "Des empreintes sanglantes des pieds et de leur mode de mensuration" (On bloody footprints and the way to measure them) in "Annales d’hygiène publique et de médecine légale", deuxièmme série, tome 1 p. 175-189, in which he reports on two cases of barefoot print comparison.

I truly love this article. Caussé proves himself a real scientist :
“It isn’t about finding differences while comparing two totally different feet, but about pinpointing a dissimilarity in generally similar feet. How can we avoid errors ? Where can we find an error-free method to examine the truth and from which the elements would be positive enough to permit the expert to conclude in this difficult and delicate appreciation.”

About finding a bloody foot impressions beside a murdered man :
"Which eyewitness is worth that much : silent, severe, incorruptible ? Let science prove that the bloody print is the signature of the foot of the criminal.”
I do not doubt that Locard and afterwards Kirk (through Locard) were inspired by these words.

Caussé describes two footprint cases :

1.
1846 : four bloody footprints on the floor
Multiple measurements (23 cm long, …)
Comparison (and exclusion) of an arrested suspect
A second arrest was made, but the suspect suicided himself, so no comparison was made.

2.
1847 : double murder : Multiple bloody impressions of a right foot on the floor
Multiple measurements
“hollow arch” of the foot
Eight arrested suspects
Original footprints were seized and brought to Dr. Caussé
Comparison
Exclusion of several suspects, based on measurements
“inconclusive” result for one suspect

He further elaborated on making comparison prints :
Put the foot on paper and draw a pencil around it (not very accurate)
Making bloody footprints on the same floor
Measurement with a standardized method

With the help of others he did a blind test.

Gerrit
Last edited by gerritvolckeryck on Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Early Plantar Cases

Postby Ernie Hamm » Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:58 pm

Gerrit,

You have provided an answer to a historical aspect with your information on Dr. Sev Causse (sorry but I do not know how to add the appropriate accents to the letters in this program).

In "Modern Criminal Investigation" by Sodermann and O'Connell (1935), there is a mention of the use of "Cause's Net" for the examination of questioned footwear tracks. The 'Cause' net was simply a graduated scale in a grid arrangement used to overlay a questioned track for a comparative examination. The same examination technique was illustrated in "Footwear Evidence", John Abbott (1964), and called "The Abbott Grid Plate Locator". It was again illustrated in "Footprints", Louise Robbins (1985) and called "Robbins Transparent Metric Grid". These were variations to the technique set forth in "Modern Criminal Investigations", the use of a graduated scale of horizonal and vertical lines in a grid arrangement.

"Modern Criminal Investigation" described the technique as "Cause's Net", with the single "s". It gave no further references to the source of the information. Your latest reference should now correct the technique as "Causse's Net". Does your material discuss his use of the grid in his comparisons involving bare footprints?
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Re: Early Plantar Cases

Postby gerritvolckeryck » Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:36 pm

Hi Ernie,

You can take a look at the drawing that was made by Caussé at :
http://web2.bium.univ-paris5.fr/livanc/?p=187&cote=90141x1854x01&do=page

You can see that it's not really a grid.

The idea was taken forward by Briand and Chaudé (Manuel complet de médecine légale, 1863), Lacassagne (Précis d'hygiène publique et de médecine légale, 1878) and by his co-workers Coutagne and Florence in their publication "Les empreintes dans les expertises judiciaires" (Prints in judicial expertises) in 1889. I believe that the latter publication was the first in which a grid was shown in a barefoot case (I must check this later). Anyway they call this grid "réseaux de Caussé" and they use it to explain the principle of metric photography.

Knowing that Locard was a student of Lacassagne and that Södermann was Locard's student and co-worker, before he started working in New-York, it seems logical that "Caussé's grid" made it's way to the US.

I'll reread Caussé's article thoroughly, but I'm affraid that "Caussé's grid" was never his.

All the best,

Gerrit
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Re: Early Plantar Cases

Postby Ernie Hamm » Thu Jul 10, 2008 8:09 pm

The ‘Causé Net’ illustrated in “Modern Criminal Investigation” (MCI), p. 143, is definitely a grid. There is a statement in MCI that does relate to the illustration in your citation. It states there are starting points for measurements and they are “the tip of the large toe” and this is also a ‘starting point’ in the illustration on p. 185 of the article by Sév Caussé in Annales d'hygiène publique et de médecine légale.

If Coutagne and Florence subsequently used a grid illustration and called it “réseaux de Caussé” (roughly translated by Babel Translation as Caussé network), that could have been the source for the reference to ‘Causé Net’ in MCI.

BTW, the use of a grid technique in barefoot examinations has also appeared recently as “PedoGRID Measurement System”. This in addition to Abbott (footwear application) and Robbins adaptations.

Gerrit, didn’t we encounter similar problems for the assignment of terms when we explored ‘Locard’s Principle of Transfer’?
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Re: Early Plantar Cases

Postby Charles Parker » Sun Jul 13, 2008 8:51 am

People v. Les (1934 – Michigan)

A number of years ago when I attended a Latent Print School put on by the FBI I received as a training handout a list of criminal cases. The title of the handout was "Legal Aspects of Fingerprints, Palm Prints and Footprints". This handout is about 19 pages in length. Under “Admissibility – Footprint Testimony” it lists just three cases:

People v. Les (1934 – Michigan) 267 Mich. 648 255 NW 407
Commonwealth v. Bartolini (1938 – Mass) 299 Mass. Rep. 503
State v. Rogers (1951 – North Carolina) 233 N.C. 390

Under “Admisibility – Palm Print Testimony” the People v. Les is listed again. No problem they could have identified a foot print and a palm print?

Now I have blow by blow accounts of Bartolini and Rogers cases and no doubt they are dealing with footprint identifications. What I have found on Les is minimum, BUT what I have read there is nothing about a footprint identification----palm print identification yes, but no footprint.

The early authors list Bartolini as the first case involving foot print testimony and Les as an early palm print case.

But the more recent authors talking about foot print cases list the Les case as the first (1934 v. 1938). I have even listed it as an early foot print case of which I based that upon the FBI publication “Legal Aspects of Fingerprints, Palm Prints and Footprints”. Matter of fact if you go into Wikipedia and under footprints it lists the Les case as the earliest foot print case.

I think what we have here is a “Fox Terrier” scenario in that the actual first case in the United States that a footprint identification was appealed was the Bartolini case while I THINK the Les v. Michigan case is a typo (error) in the FBI publication and the more recent authors did like I did and quote or use the FBI publication as their source.

Until I find out differently or run across information that I currently do not have I would have to say that the Bartolini is the first case appealed based on a foot print identification while the Les case is an early palm print case and had nothing to do with foot print identification.

Sorry Michigan but I will have to side with Massachusetts on this one, until proven different.
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Re: Early Plantar Cases

Postby gerritvolckeryck » Mon Jul 14, 2008 4:05 pm

Ernie Hamm wrote:Gerrit, didn’t we encounter similar problems for the assignment of terms when we explored ‘Locard’s Principle of Transfer’?


Indeed, and the same goes for the Quetelet principle of uniqueness.

I guess we should be starting seperate threads for those.

It's a shame that my boss doesn't want to pay me for solving mysteries dating back 100 years ago!

All the best,

Gerrit
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