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Monday, April 1, 2002

BREAKING NEWz you can UzE...

It's BidNow week!
Up for auction on Ebay this week is a vintage Faurot latent print powder kit.  Check it out!

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NEW: The Weekly Detail Subscription Fee
In order to continue to bring you the quality service you have come to expect, I have decided to implement a small subscription fee of $20 to cover basic expenses involved in hosting and updating the website and producing the Weekly Detail.  Payments will be "hassle-free," as I have already set up an automatic withdraw, weekly, from each of your bank accounts.  I figure $20 a week is a fair price to pay for such a quality SENSE of HUMOR!!!  April Fools.  :)~ ha ha haaaa  You have to admit... I had you for a second, anyway!  :)  NOoooo... the Detail has been, and will probably always remain free of charge to latent print examiners.   As many examiners as possible need this service, and to charge would drop quite a few off the list.  I AM considering some ways to let fingerprint supply companies help with expenses.  If you have any creative ideas, let me know!

Good morning via the "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.

Last week, Steve Howard gave further insight into Judge Pollak's  March 13 reversal of his January 7 ruling to exclude latent print examiner opinion testimony.  As always, the Detail Archives are available for past Details, or visit the Detail chat board to catch up on some great comments on Judge Pollak's ruling.  This week, Lisa O'Daniel brings us a report on the Mid-States IAI Divisions Conference last week (March 24-29, 2002) in Peoria, Illinois.


In 1997 and 1998, a Forensic Scientist named Janet Girten from the Illinois Division I.A.I., headed a committee of representatives from several mid-western states which created the first multi-state educational conference in which many of these divisions had ever participated. That gathering illustrated how combining each divisionís resources could provide a large-scale conference which offered more and different educational opportunities to attendees. Most of the participating divisions could not offer members so many diverse choices on their own. That first conference proved to be such a success that four years later, the leaders of the Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota and Wisconsin I.A.I. Divisions decided to hold a second multi-state educational conference. This meeting was well attended and equally successful. The 2002 Mid-States I.A.I. Divisions Educational Conference offered the chance to make new contacts or renew old friendships with members of other divisions, an opportunity to visit with numerous vendors, and most importantly, it offered a wide variety of speakers and educational topics.

The Comradery

Every gathering offers an opportunity to meet new examiners or investigators and renew old friendships with members of other divisions. This conference was no different. Many members and some non-members from all points of the mid-west region were able to join us in Peoria, IL, including the two members of the North/South Dakotas Division. Incidentally, this division was in jeopardy of losing its charter however, because of its participation in this event, the division no longer has to worry about that. We were are all pleased by this turn of events and wish the Dakotas Division luck in its continued growth.

The Vendors

As seen in any conference, the vendors were present with all their newest and greatest tools and supplies. This year, in addition to the usual booths, many companies contributed to the success of the conference by providing much needed financial support to the conference committee through sponsorships and workshops. Many vendors were able to provide extra sponsorships this year and deserve the thanks of the membership. Without such assistance, the committee would not have been able to provide many items such as the name badges, breakfasts and other goodies, all leading to a top notch event! Additionally, several vendors held workshops where they were able to give attendees a hands on experience with several products. For example, Payton Scientific exhibited alternative light sources and a superglue vacuum chamber, Mr. Dick Warrington of Lynn Peavy allowed a group to play with several casting materials and lifting tapes, and Mr. David Witzke illustrated the advantages of image enhancement using Adobe Photoshop. Such experience is not only valuable to the vendor for sales purposes, it is valuable to investigators and laboratory personnel as well. By seeing products up close we know what is available for our own use or what we may see used by others.

The Speakers and Presentations

Perhaps the most important part of any conference are the speakers and their presentations. This gathering brought together speakers from various backgrounds in an attempt to provide a well rounded educational program. I am a latent print examiner and my focus for this conference focused in that area. The sessions titled Friction Ridge Pattern Formation: The Results of New Research, Friction Ridge Skin, Fingerprint Photography, Courtroom Testimony Techniques, and S.C.R.O.: Scotlandís Fingerprint Misidentification Case were among the workshops and presentations I attended. Of equal importance to the latent print examiner were workshops titled Daubert Preparation and Ridgeology Science Workshop and Demystifying Palm Prints Workshop. Summaries of these sessions follow.

1. "Friction Ridge Skin" by Dr. William Babler, Ph.D. This presentation is based on Dr. Bablerís doctoral thesis "The Prenatal Origins of Population Differences in Human Dermatoglyphics." This talk outlines the complete development of friction ridge skin in the human fetus between 10 and 17 weeks of development and includes visual examples of the developmental stages in both diagrams and photographic reproductions of actual fetal tissue. This is a must for all examiners to understand the basic principles of permanence and uniqueness of latent prints.

2. "Friction Ridge Pattern Formation: The Results of New Research" by Mr. Kasey Wertheim of the Mississippi State Crime Laboratory and creator of the Weekly Detail. This lecture is the perfect compliment to Dr. Bablerís "Friction Ridge Skin." Mr. Wertheim has extensively studied the works of Dr. Babler and others to determine how patterns form in friction ridge skin. His presentation includes computer animated models which can also be seen on his website () Again, this presentation is a must for all latent fingerprint examiners. Additionally, Mr. Wertheim presented the "Ridgeology Science Workshop." Students who attended this workshop were instructed on how to find and use clues within the ridge flow of fingerprints to aid them in their comparisons. The goal of this instruction is to help latent print examiners to become faster and more efficient.

3. "Fingerprint Photography" by Mr. John Kilgore and Mr. Chris Kauffman. This lecture critically reviewed how to approach the photographic preservation of latent fingerprints using different lighting methods and different cameras.

4. "Courtroom Testimony Techniques" by Mr. Ron Smith of the Mississippi State Crime Laboratory. Mr. Smith has spent many years interviewing witnesses, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and jurors to determine what each group expects of an expert witness. He has put together a lively presentation designed to teach each of us to be a better witness. Mr. Smith discusses everything from dress to defense strategy but, he put the most emphasis on what the jury expects of you as a witness, including what will make the expert witness most effective and believable. By the way, for all you Ron Smith fans out there, he even found a way to work in his famous phrase "...that dog will hunt, now!" Additionally, he held a shortened version of his "Demystifying Palm Prints Workshop." Mr. Smith uses this forum to teach latent print examiners to use clues in the palmer ridge flow to determine the orientation of a palm print. Once again, his goal is to improve the efficiency and accuracy of an examinerís comparison process.

5. "S.C.R.O.: Scotlandís Fingerprint Misidentification Case" by Mr. David Grieve of the Illinois State Police. In this presentation, Mr. Grieve explains the circumstances surrounding the misidentification of a latent print to Detective Constable Shirley McKie by the S.C.R.O. and the resulting perjury charges which have destroyed her career. Mr. Grieve explains how Ms. McKie located and contacted himself and Mr. Pat Wertheim via the internet. In the end, he and Mr. Wertheim testified on Ms. McKieís behalf and both agreed the identification was indeed erroneous. What makes this case so significant is the continued cover-up by the S.C.R.O. The S.C.R.O. still contends that the identification is correct and Internal Independent Enquiries have concluded that "...no matters of misconduct or lack of capability have taken place..." in this case. If you would like to see the prints in this case or learn more about it, go to Additionally, you can find information on that site pertaining to how you may show your support for Ms. McKie as well as your displeasure about this cover-up. Mr. Grieve ended his presentation by strongly recommending each and every examiner who believes the prints were misidentified should do this. Finally, Mr. Grieve presented information pertaining to the Daubert hearings. His discussion reviewed the preparation for the first Daubert hearing on fingerprint evidence, US v. Mitchell. He also, outlined Daubert criteria for forensic evidence and spoke about future challenges.

In the end, the 2002 Mid-State Divisions I.A.I. Educational Conference was a great success. The educational opportunities were invaluable. In addition to the program outlined above for latent print examiners, this conference offered plenty of courses to fill the schedules of crime scene investigators as well. To their credit, the MDEC committee created an environment encouraging comradery among members, a forum to test the newest commercial equipment available and offered excellent educational opportunities. What took the committee over a year to plan, was over in one week and left each attendee feeling mentally fulfilled.


As usual, the Detail Chat board is available this week for informal banter about the Weekly Detail, as is the onin.com forum for other discussion.  

Over the next couple of weeks, we will continue to look at the Plaza / Daubert issues in more depth.


UPDATES on CLPEX.com this week...

Added two new books to the online bookstore for latent print examiners:

1968, Sarah Holt, "The Genetics of Dermal Ridges" (previously unavailable, and currently no other copies found on the internet)
Condition: 9  With dust jacket in Mylar, a few stains and rubs to dust jacket, NO bumps or rubs to corners of book!  Clean and tight, pages white with light pencil underlining, previous owner's name in front cover: "Deitrick"  This is an EXCELLENT copy of a very VERY hard to find book which offers the most in depth coverage of the hereditability of pattern features of it's time.  Book number 399, $95

1895, Sir Francis Galton, "Finger Print Directories" 
Condition: 6  Faded spine w/ chips to top and bottom, rear hinge loose from spine, but binding is tight.  Pages white with no markings seen.  A great bargain price matched nowhere online!  Book number 398, $95


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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.

Have a GREAT week!


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