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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, February 5, 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

NH v. Langill Jan 31, 2007 ...New Hampshire Superior Court has provisionally excluded the testimony of a fingerprint examiner, citing the examiner's failure to maintain proper documentation and her failure to use a blind verification procedure...

Defendant’s Fingerprint was Found at Murder Scene NEWSDAY, NY - Feb 1, 2007 ...fingerprint left in a splatter of blood on a wall matches a print of the accused...

Old Fingerprint Seals 99-year Sentence  ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, AK - Jan 31, 2007 ...investigators found fingerprints on papers in victim's home and under her body but did not find an initial match...

Bloody Print Opens Trial of Slain Dancer CRIME LIBRARY, NY - Jan 30, 2007 " is the only fingerprint in blood in the apartment..."

Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
Last Week's Board topics containing new posts
Moderated by Steve Everist

Fingerprint Methodology
Thomas Taylor Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:15 pm

10 years is enough fight for the McKie family
clpexco Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:10 pm

Testing fingerprint reagents
Michele Triplett Sun Jan 28, 2007 3:09 am

Steve Everist Sat Jan 27, 2007 6:28 pm

Number of man-hours to identify James Earl Ray in 1968
cchampod Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:42 pm

Opportunities abound for latent print examiners
Kasey Wertheim Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:11 am



Updated the Smiley Files with one new Smiley from Stephany Louk-Denney and Jean Curtit, Missouri State Highway Patrol.


The International Association of Chiefs of Police have instituted the IACP August Vollmer Excellence in Forensic Science Award.  The August Vollmer Excellence in Forensic Science Award has been created to honor the proactive, innovative use of forensic technologies by law enforcement.  Nomination categories for the first annual presentation of this award are as follows:

1) Innovation in Forensic Technology (Individual or crime lab)
2) Significant Investigative Value in a Major Crime 
3) Current or Past Contribution to Forensic Science by Police Agency
4) Current or Past Contribution to Forensic Science by Individual Award Regulations:

Nominations must be received by April 1st, 2007.  Submissions must be limited to no more than 1000 words.
Each agency, organization or individual may only be nominated for one category.  Additional materials will not be accepted as part of the nomination packet (e.g. videos, posters, pins, pictures etc.).  The nominations will be judged by members of the IACP Forensic Committee.  Winners will be notified in June and be presented with their award (a sterling silver medallion) at the Annual IACP Conference to be held in New Orleans, LA in October 2007.

More information is available at

I urge you all to consider nominating a worthy individual or agency. This is a great honor that the IACP recognizes the value of forensic science to its members.

Frank Fitzpatrick


Last week

Steve Ostrowski brought us news of a New Hampshire Motion to Exclude Latent Fingerprint Evidence being granted in State v. Langill.

This week

Cynthia Rennie brings us lecture notes on the appellate process from an ABFDE seminar presentation by Lisa Steele.

The Appellate Process
A Lecture at the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners Seminar
Presentation by Lisa Steele, Esq.
Lecture Notes by Cynthia Rennie,

Ms. Lisa Steele, Esq., an appellate attorney in Massachusetts, discussed the use of expert testimony in the appellate process.

Ms. Steele explained that appeals are usually launched because there has been an error of law, or because the appellate attorney believes that a new trial should be granted on the grounds of ineffective assistance of original counsel; claims of actual innocence; or claims affecting the reliability of the conviction.

The Court responds to the appeal by collecting and reviewing the transcripts of witness testimony and the court exhibits. The parties may also submit published articles and materials to support their arguments, and the Court may perform its own research using published materials and/or “amicus briefs” (information from neutral third parties).

During the appeals process, the prosecution may use forensic testimony to explain the facts of the case. If the appeal was launched because an error had been found, the prosecution may cite forensic testimony to demonstrate the strength of its case and show that the error was harmless and would not have changed the outcome of the trial.

The defense may challenge the admissibility of the expert witness and/or the testimony proffered by that witness; bring up discrepancies between the testimony of the expert and the findings of published authorities; show that the prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence or presented false evidence; present new evidence of innocence (usually DNA) to show that the trial evidence was unreliable; show that the trial counsel failed to properly investigate or challenge the evidence; or challenge the forensic methods used in the light of more modern techniques and standards.

Transcripts of expert testimony can be used in other ways as well. The defense may review prior testimony of a specific witness to get a sense of the training and expertise of the witness, and an idea of how they respond to cross-examination.

Transcripts of expert testimony may also be used in subsequent trials to impeach the same witness (or a witness from the same agency) with inconsistent procedures or explanations from prior trials. In some cases, both parties will agree to use expert testimony about a general topic in a similar situation from an unrelated trial, generally to save time and costs. In Commonwealth v. Patterson (Mass. 2005) , for example, each side had one “live” witness (Stephen Meagher and James. E. Starrs) and used the transcripts of the 1999 Mitchell challenge to obtain the testimony of the other experts (Ashbaugh, Babler, Stoney, and Cole.).

Those of us who testify in court should be aware that our testimony has a long “shelf life”, and if we are not careful and consistent, the things that we say on the witness stand may come back to haunt us.

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

Have a GREAT week!