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Monday, December  2, 2002

BREAKING NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac

Soon, Crime Suspects' Prints Won't Leave - THE BATTLE CREEK ENQUIRER - Nov. 24, 2002 ...city is one of a handful of departments in the state who are a keyboard away from the Michigan State Police fingerprint data bank...

Fingerprint Links Oregon Man to Slaying of 13-year-old Girl - SEATTLE TIMES - Nov. 24, 2002 ...print is the first physical evidence linking suspect to the slayings of one of the girls whose bodies were found on his property...

Law Databases Missing a Link - USA TODAY - Nov. 24, 2002 ...governments have spent billions of dollars upgrading technology during the past decade, yet officials' ability to share information remains limited...

Sheriff and Police Chief Resolving Fingerprint Feud - WATE 6 NEWS - Nov. 27, 2002 ...Knox County Sheriff  and Knoxville Police Chief met Wednesday to resolve a fingerprinting feud between the departments...

D.A. Releases Man Jailed for 2 Years - SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - Nov. 27, 2002 ...additional print comparisons were to determine whether suspect could be ruled out as the person who had made the latent...

Booking Perps with 21st-Century Ease - CHICAGO DAILY HERALD - Nov. 28, 2002 ... system allows for quicker access to suspect information, including quicker dissemination to other departments across the state...

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 on Ebay!  As most of you know, the first Monday of every month is reserved for a unique fingerprint related auction starting at just one penny.  Up for auction this month is a set of three ACE FINGERPRINT INK bottles in a brown leather-like case.  Two of the bottles are unopened!  Check out this unique auction at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=743338967

The Georgia Division of the IAI is sponsoring David Ashbaugh's course, "Forensic Ridgeology" June 16-20, 2003.  The cost is $400 and there are 25 seats available.  For more information, phone or e-mail Steve Greene at (404) 469-7039, 1vicepres@gaiai.org or visit their website calendar at www.gaiai.org/calendar.htm.

Last week,
David "Ski" Witzki highlighted several reasons we should stay up to speed on digital imaging and the courts.  This week it is my pleasure to give Glenn Langenburg the floor.  But before I do, I just wanted to express how much I appreciate Glenn and his efforts in advancing the field of friction ridge impression individualization.  Although I have only known Glenn well for a short while, it is obvious that he has a true passion for this line of work and will serve the fingerprint community well over the course of his career. 


Dear Fellow Colleagues,

To many, the O.J. Simpson trial is considered “The Trial of the Century”.  Perhaps this is deservingly so.  However, as a latent print examiner in the United States , U.S. v. Byron Mitchell represents to me, the “Trial of the Century” for latent print examiners since our discipline’s first introduction into American courts in People v. Jennings in 1911.

A quick recap of Mitchell: convicted robber (pre-Daubert), Byron Mitchell, appealed his case; he was given a new trial (post-Daubert).  Key evidence was two latent prints placing Mitchell in the get-away vehicle.  The defense challenged the latent print evidence and filed motions in limine to exclude latent print evidence as, according to the defense, it did not meet the criteria for reliability as put forth by the guidelines spelled out in Daubert.  For the first time in 80 years, the discipline was asked by the court to defend the underlying science and methodology that form the foundation of friction ridge skin identifications.

The government assembled a veritable “A-list” of expert witnesses to defend the discipline—not limiting the list to ONLY latent print examiners.  Dr. William Babler, Sgt. David Ashbaugh, Special Agent Ed German, FBI Unit Chief Steve Meagher, Donald Ziesig of Lockheed Martin, Dr. Bruce Budowle, and Pat Wertheim all testified for the government during the five-day Daubert hearing held in July of 1999.  The defense called four witnesses, including three critics of note: Dr. Simon Cole, Dr. David Stoney, and Prof. James Starrs.

In short, the presiding jurist, Justice J. Curtis Joyner, ruled in favor of the discipline and denied the request of defense to exclude the latent print evidence.  The ruling was oral (a formal written opinion was not provided by Joyner).

Kasey and I have talked extensively about how important this case is to our discipline and our history.  We have labored to make these transcripts readily and easily available for all examiners.  For the first time ever, for potentially a limited time (6 months to a year perhaps), THE ENTIRE DAUBERT HEARING TRANSCRIPTS and the oral ruling by Joyner, and all of the motions and memoranda filed that we could get our hands on, ARE AVAILABLE ON THIS SITE.

Having said that there are a few additional points to address:

1)      The files are in .pdf format and need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open.

2)      The entire Daubert hearing transcripts and additional material is approximately 85 MB in size.  This is about 1/7 of a standard CD-R.  If you intend to print these out, they will fill several 3-ring binders (approximately 1200 pages in all).

3)      Kasey’s space is limited on his server.  He doesn’t know how long they can be stored here.  We are currently looking for a more permanent home/server/archive for these files. 

4)      If you cannot download these files or would prefer a CD-R with all of these files mailed to you, I will gladly send one to you (with all of the Plaza rulings, testimony by James Starrs in AZ v. Rodriguez, Simon Cole in NY v. Hyatt, and additional goodies) FREE OF CHARGE!  However there is a catch:  I will gladly send you a disk IF you send me something first.  Information.  I am interested in archiving latent print examiner transcripts, unpublished research, interesting identifications, stories, cases, important rulings, bizarre or little known court rulings, audio/video clips, etc.   Anything that you can contribute to the community “library”.

5)      I am interested in obtaining more documents for archival from Mitchell if anyone has any (e.g. more defense motions, exhibits/charts used, etc.) and especially a clear fingerprint card of Mitchell. (Glenn... I believe I have some of this stuff, especially the exhibits... I'll get with you soon)

6)      We are in the process of trying to begin an archival committee or “community library” through the IAI.  This would be an extremely helpful service for examiners.  The service would also not necessarily have to be limited to latent print examiners but could service all of the identification disciplines that the IAI represents worldwide. It seems that there should be a central location, that all examiners can access, quickly and easily, to obtain important transcripts, judicial decisions, articles, and other instructional information. Luckily we have progressive individuals such as Kasey, “Dusty” Clark, Ed German, Ashbaugh, etc. that currently provide such services.  But an active jurisprudence/archival committee in the I.A.I. could centralize and consolidate all of our resources and archives.

I truly hope examiners, especially those in training, will make time to read these transcripts.  They are useful information and demonstrate how “seasoned veterans” handle difficult Daubert questions.


Glenn Langenburg
Minn. Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
Forensic Scientist
Latent Print Examiner


As you can tell, Glenn has a true passion for information.  For that reason, I have asked and Glenn has agreed to host the new Information section of the CLPEX website.  This area has previously been known as the "Articles" page, but as you will see on the home page, it has been changed to "Reference" and the page title reads "Latent Print Reference Grail". (sort of the Holy Grail of fingerprint information)  Our vision for this page transcends articles, and includes old books, unpublished manuscripts, important transcripts and legal decisions, etc.  As Glenn mentioned, the possibility of creating a special IAI committee to explore information archival is being pursued and very positive feedback has been received.  We hope those of you who have something to offer will contact Glenn and get him that information.  Don't wait until next year or until the IAI forms a committee.  We are ready to go NOW!  Glenn can be reached at Glenn.Langenburg@state.mn.us.

To discuss this week's Detail, visit the informal CLPEX.com message board at
As usual, the onin.com forum (http://onin.com/fp/wwwbd/) is also available for more formal latent print-related discussions.

Next week, we are playing it by ear.  There are no pressing topics, so if you have something you have been wanting to submit, perhaps next week is your week!  I'm just an e-mail away at kaseywertheim@aol.com.  Let me know!


UPDATES on CLPEX.com this week...

Updated "Articles" page to "Reference" page and added the Mitchell section to the Legal / Daubert subject heading

Updated the Newzroom

Updated the Detail Archives

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.

If you have not yet signed up to receive the Weekly Detail in YOUR e-mail inbox, go ahead and join the list now so you don't miss out!  (To join this free e-mail newsletter, send a blank e-mail to: theweeklydetail-subscribe@topica.email-publisher.com )  Members may unsubscribe at any time.  If you have difficulties with the sign-up process or have been inadvertently removed from the list, e-mail me personally at kaseywertheim@aol.com and I will work things out.

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

Have a GREAT week!