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Monday, September 2, 2002

BREAKING NEWz you can UzE...
by Jon Stimac

Fingerprinting Made Easy - THE NEW YORK TIMES - Aug. 18, 2002  ...The Nassau and Suffolk Police Departments are trading conventional paper and ink for electronic fingerprinting....

Federal Agency to Mandate ID Cards for Transit Workers -THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - Aug. 24, 2002  ...cards would likely use a form of biometric identification, gleaned from the user's eyes, voice, palms or fingerprints...

Texas Executes Man Who Killed Three RelativesTHE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - Aug. 28, 2002 ...fingerprints were found and his bloody clothing was traced to the victims...

NYC Examiner to Use New Identification Method THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - Aug. 29, 2002  ...In a last-ditch effort to identify more casualties of the WTC disaster, the NYC medical examiner expects to begin using an experimental DNA test...

An Island Full of Suspects -The Los Angeles Times - Aug. 30, 2002  ... police launch a voluntary program to get the fingerprints of every island resident between the ages of 15 and 70...

Additional Related Link:

  • Australia Police Probe Woman's Death -The Los Angeles Times - Aug. 11, 2002  ...police began taking fingerprints from Norfolk Island's 1,800 residents in an effort to solve the killing of the 29-year-old...

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.

It's BidNow week!  The first Monday of every month is YOUR opportunity to bid on a unique fingerprint-related item on Ebay.  This week, up for auction is a "mint in the box" vintage magnifying glass recently (unofficially) valued at around $50.  As usual, our BidNow auctions start at only a penny, so get your name on the list early.  To see the auction, visit

We are in the middle
of reviewing ten Daubert Concepts that we are compiling into a comprehensive Daubert Card to be used however you see fit.  This week we take a look at the last three concepts.

As mentioned the last two weeks, the Daubert Card addresses the concepts surrounding recent legal challenges regarding the admissibility of fingerprint evidence.  Most agree that the exact answer to each of these concepts is best prepared by the individual examiner based on his/her training, knowledge, and experience.  Therefore, the concepts themselves and the concept response is addressed in the Daubert Card, and word-for-word answers are not given.  This also forces each examiner to think through each issue and exactly how they would address it on the witness stand in front of a jury.  If YOU formulate your answer it will sound better to a jury than if you used someone else's words just right, but they sounded "canned."  Here is this week's continuation of the Daubert Concept Card:


8) Have all elements of fingerprint examination been peer reviewed?

Related questions might include:
    Do you feel it is important for peer review outside the fingerprint community?

Concept response: The fingerprint field and it's theories and techniques have been published and peer reviewed during a period of over a hundred years.  This includes publication in peer-review journals outside the scope of fingerprints. 

9) Would you consider fingerprint examination a law enforcement function?

Other sub-concepts include:
    What other applications are there for fingerprint identification?

Most of the early pioneers of fingerprint identification were scientists and doctors from around the world.  Today, the science of fingerprints has wide acceptance in business, academic, scientific and biometric communities.  Although friction ridge skin identification is primarily used in law-enforcement environments, it is also used:

     -in hospitals for newborn identification
     -in the military for casualty identification
     -in the identification of deceased victims of mass disaster
     -increasingly in security devices, such as touch-pad locks in airports,
      or home and automobile keyless entry systems.

10)  How can you justify using small distorted fragments for individualization?

Other sub-concepts include:
     What if there was a dissimilarity in the 75% of a matching print you could NOT see?

No two touches are ever exactly the same, therefore all impressions contain some level of distortion.  No friction ridge skin impression contains all the detail present on the source, therefore all prints are partial recordings.  In short, all impressions are "partial, distorted fragments."  The real issue is whether there is a detectable quality and quantity of uniqueness to permit individualization.  Once identity has been established, the examiner knows that any further recording of the print would have also matched.  Therefore, if an individualization has been made (by a competent examiner following the correct ACE-V methodology), it is understood that suggesting a dissimilarity outside that available area is to propose an impossible situation.  If an examiner does not truly believe that with the print in question, they should reconsider the identification.

Well, there you have the last of the Daubert Concepts and their responses.  I have added these to our Daubert Card and linked directly to it from the home page.  Also, the message board has been quite active with some excellent discussion on law and theory, so feel free to informally chat about these or other issues.  And remember, the Daubert Card is a living, breathing document, so if you see an area you would like updated, please drop me a note.  And as you customize your answers, remember that addressing the Daubert issues in front of a JURY is the road we are on right now, so think of your responses in that light.  I will advise you through the Detail if updates are made.

The onin.com forum (http://onin.com/fp/wwwbd/) is also available for more formal latent print-related discussions.


UPDATES on CLPEX.com this week...

Updated the Daubert Card page.

Feel free to pass The Detail along to other examiners.  This is a free service FOR latent print examiners, BY latent print examiners. There are no copyrights on The Detail, and the website is open for all to visit.

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

Have a GREAT week


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