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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, December 3, 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

Toy Fingerprint Kit Contains Asbestos SEATTLE-POST INTELLIGENCER, WA - Nov 29, 2007 ...asbestos has been found in a variety of consumer products, including one of this season's biggest-selling Christmas toys...

Fingerprints Reveal Wanted Man   KANSAS CITY STAR, MO - Nov 27, 2007 ...authorities entered the suspect’s fingerprints into the nationwide FBI database...

Housemate 'was at crime scene'  NEW YORK TIMES, NY - Nov 27, 2007 ...a bloody fingerprint belonging to Amanda Knox was found on a tap in the bathroom...

Detectives Used Fingerprints to Identify Dragging Victim KXLY-TV, WA - Nov 27, 2007 ...body was so badly damaged that he could only be identified by detectives through his fingerprints...

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

The Principal of Tolerance
Charles Parker 31 Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:50 pm

Bill Sampson
Michele 179 Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:44 pm

Randall's Post from the Maryland Thread
Steve Everist 486 Sun Dec 02, 2007 3:18 pm

Raise The Banner
Charles Parker 1186 Sun Dec 02, 2007 3:13 pm

A Model For Comparative Analysis
Charles Parker 14 Sun Dec 02, 2007 2:34 pm

Evidence Fabrication in South Africa
Pat A. Wertheim 201 Sat Dec 01, 2007 7:24 pm

Calls for Inquiry to be scrapped
Daktari 1814 Sat Dec 01, 2007 5:06 pm

Random Event
Charles Parker 442 Sat Dec 01, 2007 2:16 pm

An interesting statistic
Boyd Baumgartner 532 Fri Nov 30, 2007 10:03 am

Laminating documents with nin prints
RedFive 367 Wed Nov 28, 2007 6:04 pm

Google Books and The Gutenberg Project
George Reis 265 Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:07 pm

Ernie Hamm 1411 Sun Nov 25, 2007 4:59 pm



Updated the Fingerprint Interest Group web page with FIG # 24.


Last week

Joe Polski brought us some fingerprint related items from the November IAI update.

This week

we disseminate an IAI fingerprint statement regarding the Baltimore Maryland case for further distribution to anyone seeking information on the topic, especially any press inquiries.

IAI Position concerning Latent Fingerprint Identification
official IAI document

PDF currently at: (

An IAI link will be made available if and when this document is posted on the official IAI website.

International Association for Identification
2535 Pilot Knob Road, Suite 117
Mendota Heights, MN 55120-1120
Phone: (651) 681-8566
Fax: (651) 681-8443
November 29, 2007
(Rev. E, 1 Nov 2007)

The International Association for Identification (IAI) is the world’s oldest and largest organization of forensic science professionals. Founded in 1915, the IAI represents some 6,900 practitioners in seventy five countries. Among other things, the IAI is committed to: encouraging research in the area of the science of fingerprint identification, advancing the relevant sciences, providing training and education to practitioners and guidance to academia and government on issues concerning forensic science disciplines.

The IAI fully supports the principle that finger, palm, and footprints (friction skin detail) are unique to each and every individual. This principle has been well established through the biological sciences of anatomy, embryology and genetics. These unique anatomical features, which are formed prior to birth are persistent throughout one’s life until some time after death; have become the foundation upon which the individualization of a fingerprint to a single person becomes scientifically accepted and legally defensible. Friction skin information has been used internationally to identify and exclude sources of finger, palm, and foot impressions in criminal and civil proceedings by the relevant scientific community for more than a century. The use of the Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS) provides additional support for the unique nature of friction skin detail searches. Since the advent of such systems some thirty years ago, hundreds of thousands of computer searches of fingerprint databases have been and continue to be conducted twenty-four hours a day each and every day. As yet, no two fingerprints from different individuals have ever been found to be the same. Additionally, numerous studies have been conducted over the years by the medical research and the forensic science communities, the results of these studies collectively supporting the theory of biological uniqueness and persistence as it is currently applied to the individualization of friction skin. As with all sciences, continued research is not only advisable but mandated for the science to continue its level of acceptance in the scientific and legal arenas. However, the fact that research is ongoing in no way invalidates the past or current practice of the science by those competent professional forensic practitioners who have successfully applied it as a means of identifying perpetrators of crime and exonerating the innocent.

The IAI endorses the position that individuals may be identified as the source of a particular friction skin impression through the correct Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation and Verification (referred to within the profession as the ACE-V methodology) of the friction skin detail by competent examiners. The IAI acknowledges the concern of some observers who believe, though incorrectly, that the individualization of an unknown friction skin impression to impressions from a known individual is somehow different when comparing impressions representative of the entire finger or palm versus a partial impression. This is a flawed presupposition often cited by those with no practical experience in the fingerprint science, incomplete knowledge of the applied discipline, and or a lack of understanding of the basic principles involved. Qualified examiners know that the process is the same in both instances and the threshold for individualization is dependent on the quality and quantity of information available in and not the size of the unknown impression.

The IAI acknowledges that the practice of the friction skin comparison discipline is not free from error. This opinion is in concurrence with the National Research Council’s position on the issue of error rate as described in their assessment of forensic DNA, and believes this to be applicable to the forensic science of fingerprints. [1. Forensic genetics. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on DNA Technology in Forensic Science: an Update. (ISBN 0-309-05395-1,); 2. National Research Council (U.S.). Commission on DNA Technology in Forensic Science: an Update., RA1057.5.E94 1996, 614'.1—dc2O, 96-25364] To propose the argument that the applied methodology (ACE-V method) is unreliable because of such errors is misplaced logic. First, most of these errors may be attributed to the improper application of the methodology, the competence of the examiner or subjective influences. Second, errors are corrected by applying the ACE-V method correctly. One can not claim that a method is unreliable and then rely on the same method to detect and rectify the error. Though an accurate approach to numerically quantifying an error rate for friction skin individualizations has yet to be determined, it is generally held by practitioners, scientists, and legal authorities that the error rate for fingerprint identification is extremely small, statistically insignificant, and not due to the methodology but instead to the inherent risk of error in any human endeavor.

The reliability of any forensic science discipline is best controlled by the adherence to established scientific and quality assurance practices. The IAI acknowledges the existence and importance of standards and guidelines and encourages all agencies and practitioners performing forensic latent print examinations to adhere to these principles. Further, the IAI recognizes the benefits of accreditation and certification for agencies and practitioners. It encourages agencies performing forensic latent print examinations to obtain accreditation and promotes the certification of examiners through the IAI’s Certified Latent Print Examiner (CLPE) program. Participation in such programs ensures confidence that the laboratory is practicing sound examinations through adherence to established quality assurance practices.

Fingerprint examiners state their conclusions as a matter of opinion as is the practice with many other forensic disciplines. They are ethically and professionally required to offer their opinions only when they are absolutely confident of their conclusions and in the procedures and methods used in the process. Stating their conclusions with any less certainty or offering an opinion on identity based on general or class characteristics may allow for a misinterpretation of results by juries and judges.

The IAI recognizes that it is a tactic employed by opposing counsel in our judicial system and others who may lack sufficient knowledge, training and experience, to question the reliability of the forensic sciences particularly that of friction skin impression examinations. This is to be expected since it is part of an adversarial judicial system. The objective of these tactics is to misrepresent factual data, offer incomplete or misleading data, or attempt to create confusion. Therefore to clarify the collective opinion of the profession at large concerning the ACE-V methodology and the principles involved in the individualization of friction skin, the following statement is offered:

The International Association for Identification steadfastly supports and promotes the continued and proper application of the science of friction ridge skin individualization.

The Nugget
a stand-alone deep thought from the forum

I feel that tolerance is one of the most overlooked areas in our discipline right now. I think there is a lot of confusion about how much tolerance we should have for distortion. In part, this confusion is fueled by recent erroneous identifications and a general critical attack on the science of fingerprints. Examiners seem more cautious, and therefore are more likely to incorrectly state that something is out of tolerance, and not proclaim the match. ...

Blind review has been shrouded in a negative light by examiners using phrases of negative connotation such as 'shopping around' or 'fishing for a verification'. Instead we should herald the concept of blind review as one mitigation to the risk of letting the guilty go free in an era of relative conservatism in our discipline.

Next week

we will feature Pat Wertheim's latent print report in the Van der Vyver case.  This week you can follow this case in the news and on the CLPEX forum:

The trial of Fred van der Vyver for the 2006 murder of Inge Lotz ended [on November 29] in a verdict of "Not Guilty" in Cape Town, South Africa. In rendering that verdict, the judge went a step further and found that each piece of evidence and each witness presented by the prosecution was without credibility and that Mr. van der Vyver could not have committed the crime. In his final words, the judge actually pronounced Mr. van der Vyver "Innocent" rather than simply "not guilty."

Fingerprint evidence was presented as having come from a DVD cover at the scene of the murder of Miss Lotz. That was significant because Mr. van der Vyver was at her apartment the day before her murder, but she had rented the DVD only hours before her death. The problem was that the latent print could only have come from a drinking glass, complete with curved edges, curved fingers, and even a lip print on the rim of the glass. Had there been any lift that could conceivably come from a DVD cover, a careless mix up may have been possible, but none of the eleven lifts from the scene could have come from a DVD cover.

Evidence Fabrication in South Africa


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

Have a GREAT week!