T H E
T A I L
Monday, November 26, 2001
Welcome to the sixteenth "Detail," a weekly e-mail newsletter that greets latent print examiners around the globe every Monday morning. The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important events as they happen in our field.
This week, we are taking a look at how Daubert has changed the face of latent print examiner training.
As I meet and train more and more latent print examiners, I am realizing we all have one thing in common... we are ALL interested in training to help us deal with the Daubert and/or scientific issues that may confront us on the witness stand. Some are afraid because they don't know the issues. They are afraid they will be confronted with being asked to explain something they have never heard before. Others know the issues, but aren't sure exactly how they should answer them. Lastly, most of us know the issues and know the answers, but articulating those answers to a jury is a whole different ball game.
Because of the need to address scientific issues, training is changing. David Ashbaugh's Forensic Ridgeology Course spends a lot of time discussing methodology and Daubert. The Advanced Problem Latents course, currently taught by Pat Wertheim, looks at the Analysis phase of latent print examination and zero's in on how to identify problem areas in a distorted latent print, account for that distortion, and articulate how and why certain areas can and/or can not be used during the identification process. In the Ridgeology Science Workshop, I have greatly increased the depth to which I go in explaining the ACE-V methodology and how it relates directly to the scientific method (and which steps.) Further, in class we discuss Daubert and how to actually talk about the scientific issues. Other fingerprint related courses already do, or are in the process of incorporating these concepts into their goals and objectives. It's a good thing, since public defender schools are probably also including these elements in their schools!!
I also have a feeling you will see more Daubert related presentations at this year's IAI conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Curt Shane, the program coordinator, is finalizing the program this month, so if you plan on presenting and have not yet turned in your paperwork, be sure to contact him this month. The deadline is in January.
It seems that major portions of latent print examiner training now go further than the concept, and addresses how to articulate those concepts. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; it is simply a different approach that has been a result of the Daubert challenges and subsequent debate regarding our science. Actually, many would argue it's a good thing. Several years from now, practitioners in general will be much more knowledgeable and prepared to defend and articulate the principles of friction skin identification.
Do you feel that fingerprint training is changing to better equip latent print examiners to address scientific and legal challenges? Would you like to see even more changes? Give your input on the discussion board!
Next week, we'll play it by ear. If you have a contribution ready to go, I'm just an e-mail away. Remember, this is a newsletter for latent print examiners, BY latent print examiners (YOU!)
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.