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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, June 28, 2004

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.

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

Cleared Perjury-Case Detective To Be Sued   SCOTSMAN, UK  - June 25, 2004 ...Shirley McKie was wrongly accused of perjury for maintaining that a fingerprint found at a murder scene was not hers - she now faces the legal bill...

Police Commissioner Eyes Penalty vs. Print Technician   BOSTON HERALD, MA - June 25, 2004 ...the Boston police will investigate whether a technician who helped wrongly convict an alleged cop shooter should be punished...

Fingerprinting Goes High-tech ADVERTISER, LA  - June 25, 2004 said goodbye to ink-fingerprints when it unveiled a new state-of-the-art palm and fingerprint scanner...

In Texas Program, Medicaid Patients Give Fingerprints HOUSTON CHRONICLE, TX  - June 25, 2004 ...patients are part of a program to use collected fingerprints to clear them for treatment/visits...


Last week, Craig Coppock shared some thoughts regarding objectivity in the comparison process.  This week, I need some perspective on an issue that several people have asked me about over the last few months.  I come from an agency where this was never an issue, but I am hearing some discussion about external verification.  Let's examine the issue through a scenario that is not based on anything except my imagination (that I know of).  This week's Detail involves more questions than answers... provokes more thought than relates detail... and hopefully will prompt discussion to benefit those who participate, regardless of whether they participate by posting or by reading the message board (or by contacting me privately)


Examiner performs ACE and finds sufficient uniqueness in sequence to individualize the only latent print in a major case; makes notes to this effect and turns in the case to a reviewer in the same agency

Suspect is one of many suspects; police don't have any other evidence

Print is on an object that has probative value in the case

Reviewer(s) of the case find agreement of ridge formations present, but not sufficient to individualize.

There are no additional latent print examiners available within the agency to review the results.

Examiner formally asks to seek outside (of the agency) verification

Examiner's request is denied by administration

Examiner expresses grief because of confidence in the determination of individualization

Agency holds ground

Suspect is not charged

So what are you thinking so far?  Heartburn?  Should procedures be in place to allow external review?  Should procedures be in place to prevent external review?  Why?

Let's continue the hypothetical scenario...

Suspect commits another sexual assault/homicide; case 2

Suspect is linked to case 1 through other case information

An ethical, competent, independent examiner hired by the defense reviews both cases

Independent examiner identifies, has verified, and reports the identification from case 1

This is "discovered" by the prosecution and used in trial for both crimes

Subsequent image publication reveals to you that it was a "tough" but good match

Victim's family in the first case file a lawsuit against the department using the case notes of the examiner

Examiner testifies for the prosecution "I knew it matched and was grieved but followed policy"

Agency position: "we followed policy"

Family's position: "bad policy kills"

Possible questions to answer on the message board:

Is this scenario realistic or unrealistic?  Why?

Do you know of a case with a similar scenario?  If so, for research sake, I would be interested in details e-mailed privately

Would you have responded differently if you were the examiner?  The reviewer?

What term(s) would you use to describe the Examiner?  (right? wrong? correct? incorrect?)  Should the examiner be disciplined? issued an apology? promoted? fired? congratulated?

What term(s) would you use to describe the Reviewer? (right? wrong? correct? incorrect?)
Should the reviewer be disciplined? how?

If you were an administrator, would you change the policy?  How would it read?

Feel free to e-mail me personally if you don't want your comments posted.

I intend to present this and other concepts in St. Louis.  General thoughts from the message board may be referenced without permission being asked, but no specific references or quotations will be used.  Specific concepts or excerpts from private e-mail may be referenced and cited, with permission from the author of course.

If you post, try to follow "threads" and keep like thoughts together.  Also, before you start typing consider what you are going to say and type a short, specific, basic, and focused subject line entry about your response:

A few things about subject lines (to keep post events semi-organized and searchable):

1) keep them short. With many replies, long subject lines may wrap 2-3 times and take up valuable screen space

2) make them specific. Interested parties should not have to click on your thread to know generally what it is about

3) distill to the basics. It should be specific and detailed, yet distilled to it's most basic form

4) stay focused on the concept. A reply should answer a question or build on a previous comment. For new concepts, start a new "reply" to the "LIVE" parent thread or appropriate sub-thread and label the subject line accordingly.

Message Board tip: if you are reading a thread and want to go back to the main message board thread page, click the "BBS Index" button at the bottom left corner of the screen.

Enjoy the CLPEX message board!


To discuss this Detail, the message board is always open: (

More formal latent print discussions are available at (


"When are you going to start those Funny Finds back up again... that was all I ever read!"

-Truthful in Texas

Back by popular demand!  But the folder's empty... Send 'em on in!!  Anybody want to be FFF coordinator?  Truthful?  :)  It would involve searching for and finding FFF's.



Management circle will return next week



Updated the Detail Archives.

Disabled the guestbook hyperlinks due to flaming vulgar hacking half-wits... that unfortunately know more about html than I do.

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

Have a GREAT week!