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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, January 08, 2007

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

13 Years Later, 'cold case' Murder Heats Up TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT, FL WV - Jan 5, 2007 ...suspect was identified as a person of interest in 2005 when his fingerprints matched those found in home...

Fingerprints ID Man Found in Closet HAMILTON SPECTATOR, Canada - Jan 5, 2007 ...deceased was identified through fingerprint analysis...

Rapist’s Sister Denies he Wants Commutation BOSTON HERALD, MA - Jan 5, 2007 ...argument before the SJC is based on a police report on four latent fingerprints found on the victim’s phone...

Crime Lab Delays Slowing Down Investigators EYEWITNESS NEWS, TN- Jan 5, 2007 ...being the only one crime lab in the entire state of Arkansas might be one of the problems...

Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
Last Week's Board topics containing new posts
Moderated by Steve Everist
Steve Everist Sun Jan 07, 2007 6:57 pm

New IAI Standards?
Whisler Sun Jan 07, 2007 1:10 pm

Point Of View: Point Counters and Pseudoscience
Charles Parker Sat Jan 06, 2007 2:38 pm

Processing Money
Red Sat Jan 06, 2007 4:07 am

Steve Everist Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:57 pm

Do you use Individualization versus Identification?
Red.Sox.Fan Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:40 pm

Alternative digital method
Wayne Reutzel Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:18 am

Oil Red O
Charles Parker Thu Jan 04, 2007 4:42 pm

Looking For Another Book
Charles Parker Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:00 am



Updated the "Newzroom" link to be the Dactylogram link.  Jon Stimac and the Pacific Northwest Division of the IAI have hosted all back-issues of Jon's monthly news digest online, and I figured it would be best to link to all the news Jon has preserved instead of maintaining the link to the 'old' CLPEX newsroom.  We will still feature Jon as the gatherer of our "Breaking Newz you can Uze" in the Detail, and in addition we will utilize the PNWDIAI host as the link to our historical news section as links to news slowly become outdated by their providers over time.

On another note, I'm looking for a photoshop guru with some time they are willing to invest to be the coordinator for the "Distortion versus Dissimilarity" page.  Charlie Parker has been archiving and cataloging over 20 examples of close non-identifications and tough identifications, and he is sharing his collection for publication on  I am looking for someone who can stay with the project for a few years as it grows, and who can receive various size, format, and resolution images, and create standardized images for posting on this web page.  If this sounds like you, please shoot me an e-mail early this week and we'll get this ball rolling!

Ridgeology Science Plus goes to Fort Collins, Colorado on April 23rd through the 27th.  Join Glenn Langenburg and Josh Bergeron as they bring

For more information about registration, contact Bonnie Wertheim, Forensic Identification Training Seminars: 1-888-235-1230, or e-mail


Opportunities abound for latent print examiners wanting to make a difference in the Global War on Terror.  Over the next year (some starting this week) there will be multiple postings by different companies about these opportunities.  If you would like to discuss these options, I would be more than happy to speak with folks about the differences between one position or another, or to let folks know about all the opportunities present at any given time.  For example, the National Ground Intelligence Center in Charlottesville, Virginia is hiring 6 latent print examiners through Harding Security Associates to begin some very interesting work within the United States.  Of course, there are other opportunities overseas through different companies and with different organizations.  There are positions for examiners, evidence technicians, photographers, and in the near future there will probably be other contract forensic positions in disciplines such as DNA, Firearms, Trace, QD, etc.  If you are a Latent Print Examiner nearing your retirement qualification with your agency and you are open to relocation or international assignment, some of these opportunities are very lucrative.  Others are more stable or offer diversification into areas such as multi-modal biometrics, or intelligence analysis.  If you are a young examiner who feels your talent may not be recognized in your current situation, you may be ready for a change.  If any of this has interested you, I would enjoy speaking with you about the opportunities that may well fit with a career path that will lead to higher job satisfaction on many levels.  Drop me an initial e-mail at and I will schedule a time to confidentially discuss your situation and your options.


Last week

We celebrated the new year!

This week

Mike Heintzman, through the January 2007 edition of Jon Stimac's Dactylogram, brings us his report on a recent Daubert hearing in Portland, Oregon.

District of Oregon: U.S. v. Hudson
by Mike Heintzman
Supervisor, Portland Metro Lab
Oregon State Police Forensic Services Division

The following article was provided by its author with publication approval from his represented agency.

On November 20, 2006 members of the Oregon State Police Forensic Services Division (OSP-FSD) participated in a federal court Daubert Hearing in Portland, Oregon. The questioned case originated from a 2005 gang shootout in Portland in which one individual was killed and an OSP-FSD firearms analyst subsequently identified over 50 shots fired from 5 different weapons. Two firearms were eventually recovered by investigators (but not used in the homicide), and Forensic Scientist Melissa Girardelli identified a single latent print on one weapon to a submitted suspect. The case was eventually taken over by the ATF, and the suspect was charged with a federal Felon in Possession charge. The ATF also sent the firearms to a private laboratory for DNA testing. As a result, both weapons were reported to have the DNA from the suspect.

The defense motion included objections to the use of DNA (didn’t obtain samples from every person who may have contaminated the weapon), Firearms (no scientific objective testing, no peer review, no error rate, lack of objective standards for identification), and Latents (no objective standards {number of points}, ACE-V does not meet scientific standards, the identification does not exclude the worlds population, there is no peer review of the science, there is no established error rate, and the criteria for standards and controls are not met). The defense also attempted to use a Daubert objection to testimony concerning gang affiliation, but since gang affiliation isn’t based on science, Judge Brown threw that one out.

An analyst from the private DNA laboratory testified to the basis of PCR DNA testing. I testified to the scientific basis of Latent Print Examination, and Forensic Scientist Girardelli testified to the application of those methods in her casework. The OSP-FSD firearms analyst testified last on the scientific basis of Firearms examination. Three independent forensic experts were involved with the defense, although only one – a firearms expert - was at the hearing, but did not testify.

At the conclusion of the OSP-FSD firearms analyst testimony, Judge Brown ruled immediately from the bench that DNA and Latents met the Daubert criteria for scientific admissibility. Judge Brown issued a written opinion on December 7, 2006, which stated in part: “… testing was performed according to standard operating procedures that are generally accepted in the scientific community as reliable techniques used to evaluate both fingerprint and DNA evidence…”

Latent Print Issues:
Forensic Scientist Girardelli and I answered the 5 main Daubert criteria in direct testimony, which included results of studies on both the permanence and identifiability of friction ridge skin, a comparison of ACE-V to the Scientific Method, a description of Analysis and Comparisons as objective functions and Evaluation as subjective (don’t shy away from the term ‘subjective. The courts accept a subjective conclusion as long as it was based on objective data), a description of the multiple peer review processes we go through, and a description of the OSP Quality system, etc. Testimony also included how OSP’s forensic system error rate was calculated, what the individual examiners error rate is (0), and why reliance on CTS tests for discipline wide error determination was a bad idea.

An issue raised by the defense was the lack of a numerical standard used in this country, and the fact that other countries use a numerical standard. This was answered with a combination of the historical perspective of why we at one time had a numerical standard, why that standard was determined to be in error, why we no longer have a numerical standard, what other countries no longer use a numerical standard, and why the countries that still use a numerical standard do so. Part of this testimony, both mine and Forensic Scientist Girardelli’s, dealt with the use of Level II and Level III detail in an individualization, and a description of the process of individualization . Emphasis was made on the process as utilizing the whole friction ridge area, not counting points. Testimony was also offered that OSP has a written standard for individualization, which is based on the SWGFAST guidelines.

Another issue that was brought up was contextual and configural biases. This included a brief explanation of what happened in the Brandon Mayfield case. There was a discussion of the effects of bias during both the Evaluation and Verification processes. Refer to the studies by Dr.’s Dror and Busey. Testimony included the OSP-FSD’s quality program on handling disagreements between analysts other ways we try to eliminate biases.

One part of the peer review question that was raised was acceptance of ACE-V and acceptance of our evidence processing procedures by the forensic community. We were able to show that that both were accepted practices by referring to the SWGFAST guidelines and our accreditation process, as well as evidence processing using the same procedures done in other labs.

If you find yourself involved in a Daubert hearing, I would strongly suggest that you over-prepare, and fully utilize the available information and resources of other past participants of similar challenges.

*A full PDF copy of Judge Brown's Opinion and Order is available here.

Feel free to pass The Detail along to other examiners.  This is a free newsletter FOR latent print examiners, BY latent print examiners. There are no copyrights on The Detail (except in unique cases such as this week's article), 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!