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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, March 3, 2008

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

Legal Challenge Begins to DNA Database Ė POLITICS.CO.UK - Feb 27, 2008 ...two arrested men want DNA and fingerprints removed from national database...

Judge Rules for Kinge in Civil Trial Ė ITHACA JOURNAL, NY - Feb 27, 2008 ... David Harding, the state police investigator who claimed to have obtained Kinge's fingerprints, pleaded guilty to fabricating the evidence...

Theories Explain Delay in IDing Prints Ė JANESVILLE GAZETTE, WI  - Feb 27, 2008 ...police said the break in the case came when an FBI fingerprint analyst
matched prints from the crime scene...

Savvy Criminals Obliterating Fingerprints to Avoid Identification Ė The Eagle-Tribune - Mar 2, 2008  ...Edgardo Tirado turned out to be Gerald Perez, 33, of 4 Lynch St., and the stitches were part of a procedure he had performed in the Dominican Republic to obliterate his fingerprints...

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

Announcement: Click link any time for recent, relevant fingerprint NEWS
Sun Dec 16, 2007 3:36 pm

Dr. Michael West, Forensic Odontologist
Pat A. Wertheim 13 Sun Mar 02, 2008 2:41 pm

Calls for Inquiry to be scrapped
Daktari 16389 Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:28 am

Evidence Fabrication in South Africa
Pat A. Wertheim 13734 Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:54 pm

Palm print AFIS in Florida???
J Fennell 215 Tue Feb 26, 2008 1:49 pm

You just can't help some people....
Cindy Rennie 617 Tue Feb 26, 2008 8:45 am

Trying to find a book
EmmaC 333 Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:43 pm



Updated the Fingerprint Interest Group web page with FIG # 35.

Inserted KEPT #9 - On-Line Forums:  Discuss this topic on - a discussion has been created for KEPT.

Goodbye to Newz-man Jon Stimac, who has been pulling together our weekly news for the last 6 years!  He has recently stepped up as the Editor of the IAI's new publication Identification News and this will be his last week of pulling together links for the Weekly Detail. 
Thanks, Jon, for all the hours... it was quite a run for 6 years.  I appreciate all the information sharing and knowledge you contributed to for so long.  I'm happy to see you taking that to the next level with ID News and  I wish you the best in all your information sharing endeavors.  Thanks again for everything you have done and that you continue to do for our community.

If anyone else is interested in pulling together the top 4 weekly articles for the audience of the Weekly Detail, please reply to the e-mail or send me a note with your technical approach to how you could/would accomplish the Newz:  There are many features associated with news services these days that might make this an easier task than it used to be.  Another option is for us all to simply refer to the News link that stays at the top of the forum.

Speaking of the forum,
Due to technical difficulties, the board was down half of the week but it is back up at this time.  I apologize for not being able to provide you with your daily fix of interaction!  I am in the process of having my website re-hosted to a new platform with a new version of PhpBB to support our forum.  Until then, we may have to live with a few more glitches over the coming weeks / months.

Last week

Steve Ostrowski brought us a summary and links regarding the New Hampshire Supreme Court's appeal of State v. Langill.

This week

I have often wondered what we would see if a prominent critic of latent print identification were the victim of a crime-against-persons where prosecution hinged on a latent print identification.  We all doubt the critic would drop the charges and allow the individual to walk; rather we would like to see them break down and admit they know the science is valid and allow justice to be served in their case.  Cully Stimson of the Heritage Foundation does a great job of framing the importance and many uses of fingerprint identification in an article that makes us back up a level and realize the success of our discipline.
What's this?  Fingerprint evidence cannot be trusted?

A trial judge in Maryland recently ruled that the prosecution couldn't use fingerprint evidence in a murder trial. Why? Because, according to her, fingerprint evidence isn't reliable. Never mind that the defendant's fingerprints were found on the car of the person he allegedly shot. Does this ruling make sense? Fingerprint evidence has been a reliable crime-fighting tool for more than a century. Police officers, security experts, prosecutors, defense attorneys ó all rely on fingerprint evidence. Indeed, its use and reliability isn't limited to the courtroom. Many parents, for example, have their children fingerprinted so that if they are abducted, law enforcement has a set of prints to use in the investigation.

Fingerprints are also used to keep track of sex offenders. Under the Adam Walsh Act, convicted offenders must register with local officials, and their conviction and image is posted on a national Web site so the public can know where they are. But they don't just register ó they have to submit their fingerprints to the authorities.

Communities rely on the authenticity of those fingerprints.

As combat operations continue in Iraq and Afghanistan, coalition forces continue to engage the enemy. As in all wars, some enemy fighters are captured. Often, they are hard to identify, because they refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions by wearing a uniform and identifying themselves once captured. Those elusive terrorists are identified by their fingerprints. The military relies on this evidence. In fact, they stake their lives on it.

Foreign visitors to the United States are required to place their finger on an electronic reader when they arrive. Their print is instantly compared against a database of other prints. The system was put in place after Sept. 11 to determine whether someone should be allowed into our country. The Department of Homeland Security relies on fingerprint evidence to protect all of us.

In many states, convicted criminals are required to provide their fingerprints to the government so that, in the future, if they commit another crime, authorities can compare the known prints to the new prints. Authorities do this because many career criminals use multiple aliases. States rely on fingerprint evidence to hold recidivists accountable.

In some of the most secure business, government and military buildings, you have to place your fingers and palm into a reader to gain access to sensitive areas. Since, as we all know, no two fingerprints have ever been proven to be the same, there is a high degree of confidence that the person presenting her fingerprint to the reader is the person actually authorized access to the top-secret area. Security experts rely on fingerprint evidence, and for good reason.

It would be a different story if fingerprints were an untested practice. In our criminal justice system, it is right and proper to test the validity of new scientific techniques. The last thing anyone wants to see happen is for an innocent person to be detained or convicted based on unreliable scientific methods. We must keep an open mind when a criminal defense attorney tests the prosecution's attempted use of a new scientific technique in court whose reliability has not been established. Techniques that have been accepted in the relevant scientific community as reliable have been and should be admitted. Unreliable techniques, and quackery, should be excluded.

But defense attorneys, too, have relied on fingerprint evidence for years. They routinely argue that the lack of fingerprints in a case, or the presence of a third parties' fingerprints at the scene of the crime, is valuable ó reliable ó evidence for a jury to consider.

Fingerprints, in short, have a long and dependable history. The science of reading a fingerprint has proved to be reliable to judges in every country, and indeed in every state in the United States. You and I rely on fingerprint evidence everyday to keep us safe. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court, in an opinion written in 1969 by Justice William Brennan said that fingerprint evidence is a "more reliable and effective crime-solving tool than eyewitness identifications and confessions."

Perhaps the Maryland trial judge forgot to read that case.

About the writer: Cully Stimson, a former prosecutor and defense attorney, is a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Readers may write to the author in care of The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; Web site:


KEPT - Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony - #9
On-Line Forums
by Michele Triplett, King County Sheriff's Office

Disclaimer:  The intent of this is to provide thought provoking discussion.  No claims of accuracy exist. 


Question Ė On-Line Forums:

This could relate to any information on the internet or information in a newspaper article.


Possible Answers:

a)      An on-line chat board may not be a reliable source of information because answers arenít always as accurate or as comprehensive as they should be.

b)      An on-line chat board may not be a reliable source of information because the answers may just be someoneís opinion and may not be tested or valid.

c)      Iíd have to read the entire thread to understand the context of this conversation.

d)     Iím unfamiliar with forum and cannot comment on what was said.

e)      Yes, I did say that but I meantÖ..

f)       I canít comment on this because I donít know if they were referring to a specific incident, a specific case, or rules that only affect a specific jurisdiction. 

g)      I am aware that this was said but I donít know what this person was basing this information on.

h)      Iíve seen this image on the internet but I canít vouch for the authentication of the image. 



Iíve heard several people state that attorneyís are bringing up information from on-line forums during interviews or testimony.  Some people use this as a reason not to post on these forums and others use this as a way to slight those who do post.  On-line forums or blogs can be very informative and therefore I donít believe people should discourage their use.  Itís more important that we understand the context of the information and not be afraid to answer to this if this comes up in court.

Answers a, b, c, d, f, g and h:  These are all appropriate answers.

Answer e:  I would discourage any discussion that sounds like the examiner is being defensive.  These on-line forums are a valuable source of information but need to be kept within the appropriate context.  Although they may be valuable at a specific time for a specific topic, the information from these conversations may not be as useful during a trial or to determine the expertise of a practitioner.


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

Have a GREAT week!