Admissibility of Latent Fingerprint Evidence and Daubert
by Denise Van Cleave and Christina Rivers
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Latent fingerprint evidence has long been upheld in modern courts as good scientific evidence. Latent fingerprints are the impressions or evidence left behind by the tips of the fingers, palms of the hand or soles of the human foot. The Frye ruling established â€œgeneral acceptanceâ€ as an absolute pre-requisite to admissibility and insured that testimony was reliable and based on scientific validity.Â However, there are some that believe that fingerprint evidence often fails the admissibility standard of scientific evidence outlined by the Daubert rulings.Â This paper will illustrate how fingerprint evidence has evolved both in and out of the courts, how it often fails to meet Daubert standards, and how it can be changed so that it satisfies the goals of the Daubert ruling for judicial courts.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â ÂÂ A. Latent Fingerprint Evidence and How It Is Used
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â On the palmar surface of the fingers and hands as well as the plantar surfaces of the human feet is rough, corrugated skin consisting of raised areas called friction ridges.Â Friction ridges do not go unbroken, but are non-continuous.Â Friction ridges form in variable, complicated patterns.Â A cross section of a finger, for example, would look like a plowed field (Lee & Gaensslen, 2001).Â Friction ridges form before a person is born, during the third and fourth month of gestation.Â Once the pattern has developed, it is believed scientifically to remain constant unless a deep injury to the dermis of the skin creates a permanent scar.Â The scar may then interfere with â€œclassificationâ€ of the pattern (Romandetti, 2004).Â Friction ridge patterns and details are unique and non-repeating.Â No two ridge patterns (made from different fingers, palms or feet) are exactly alike (Lee & Gaensslen, 2001).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Latent fingerprints are impressions caused by the transfer of body perspiration and oils present on friction ridges onto the surface of an object (Saferstein, 2007).Â Eccrine glands, or sweat glands, are the most abundant on the soles of the feet.Â Gland formation on the palms and soles of the feet begins around the third fetal month.Â The sweat and oil mixture from eccrine glands help make fingerprints adhere to surfaces (Lee & Gaensslen, 2001).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Fingerprints can be classified by analyzing any differences which occur between patterns, from the shape and the size of the pores (Romandetti, 2004).Â Latent print examiners have two goals: first, the successful development and/or enhancement of a latent print.Â Secondly, identification or elimination based upon a developed latent print.Â A latent print examinerâ€™s primary mission is to recognize potential areas in which latent prints may appear and then utilize one or more techniques to process the area with the objective of developing the prints to make them visible.Â A judgment is then made as to whether sufficient ridge detail is present for identification.Â If there is not sufficient detail, other methods can be used to further enhance a print.Â After a positive decision is made, comparison of the print with a known print with the objective of positive identification or elimination can be completed (Lee & Gaensslen, 2001).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Analytical methodology and classification of latent prints relies on the subjective judgment of individual examiners.Â Not much research has been done on statistical probabilities and population distributions of latent fingerprints.Â This led to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to acknowledge the lack of research and call for â€œbasic research to determine the validity of individuality in friction ridge examination based on measurement of features, quantification, and statistical analysisâ€(Romandetti, 2004).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Regardless of the lack of hard evidence surrounding latent fingerprint distributions, fingerprints have been and are still considered to be one of the most valuable forms of physical evidence in identification.Â Over time, investigators have improved techniques for the recovery and development of latent prints.Â The best method depends on the print, the surface the print is on, and the environment the print is in. Â Applying the correct technique is extremely important.Â Using the wrong procedure can destroy the latent print evidence (Lee & Gaensslen, 2001).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â How old the fingerprint is cannot be determined by a technical examination.Â The print age can be determined if it was developed on a non-porous surface if the expert can establish the last time the surface was cleaned (Lee & Gaensslen, 2001).Â It is critical to know the source of the latent print.Â If it can be illustrated that a defendant had access to the area or object where the latent print was developed, then legitimacy of the print can be questioned in a court of law (Lee & Gaensslen, 2001).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â A latent fingerprint expert is qualified to analyze and compare all of the fingerprint data and render an opinion based upon facts.Â The opinion is permissible because the expert has special knowledge a layperson would not possess.Â Expertise generally is gained through on-the-job training and/or by working as an apprentice to an expert.Â The expert would also have participated in formal educational training in fingerprint classification and latent fingerprint techniques.Â They must know these phases of fingerprint science: fingerprint history, fingerprint classification, latent print procedures, and evidence examination.Â They are also required to stay current in reading scientific publications (Lee & Gaensslen, 2001).Â B. History of Latent Fingerprint Evidence (Pre-Daubert)
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The greatest challenge once more and more fingerprints were being collected, historically, was to classify them in such a way that they could be searched and referenced.Â Many countries in the world use the â€œHenry Systemâ€, named after Sir Edward Henry.Â It was developed by a colleague, Azizul Hague, for Henry, Inspector General of Police in Bengal, India.Â It is documented in Henryâ€™s book, Classification and Uses of Finger Prints.Â Its use spread quickly throughout India, and in 1901, Henry got both the credit for the system and an appointment as the first director of the Metropolitan Police at Londonâ€™s (the Met) fingerprint division.Â In 1905, he was promoted to Commissioner of Police in Scotland Yard (Woodward, Orlans & Higgins, 2003).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The Henry system and its variants rely on classification of each individual fingerprint into one of three classes: loop, arch and whorl.Â Results are expressed as a primary classification of two numbers resulting in a fraction.Â The numerator represents the number and position of whorls on odd-numbered fingers.Â The denominator represents the number and position of whorls on even-numbered fingers.Â There were also secondary classifications. (Woodward, Orlans & Higgins 2003).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The Federal Bureau of Investigations in the United States uses the basic Henry system amended to their requirements.Â Over the years, they have dealt with larger and larger repositories of fingerprint cards.Â Some data was added in the secondary classification area and reflected items such as finger position for the first finger with a loop.Â By 1992, the FBI had more than thirty-two million sets of fingerprint cards in its master repository.Â This allowed the grouping of these cards into classes in which the biggest class was no more than eight percent of the entire collection.Â Reducing the search by ninety-two percent of the thirty-two million records made searching easier (Woodward, Orlans & Higgins, 2003).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In 1911, fingerprint evidence was first accepted at the appellate level by the Illinois Supreme Court.Â This case was the People v. Jennings, 96 N.E. 1077 (III 1911).Â Thomas Jennings was tried for the murder of Clarence Hiller.Â Jennings himself was linked to the criminal activity by circumstantial evidence only.Â But, the Hiller family had just painted their house.Â On the railing of their back porch, four fingerprints had been left behind in the wet paint.Â The prosecution had expert witnesses from varied bureaus of investigation which testified that the latent prints were made by the defendantâ€™s left hand.Â The judge allowed this testimony, and based upon it, Jennings was convicted.Â Jennings argued in his defense that the latent prints were not properly admitted into court.Â On the basis of such authorities as the Encyclopedia Britannica and a treatise on identification of fingerprints, the court concluded that there was a scientific basis to their judgment (Mnookin, 2003).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The Jennings decision was influential to latent fingerprint cases because courts in other states admitted fingerprints without any substantial analysis relying on this court case as a precedent.Â The court also affirmed that fingerprint evidence had been admitted in England since 1891 without error, and that science is of â€œvery ancient originâ€.Â The problem arises in that how could the court have made this decision with such certainty without any truly scientific study and without proof that no fingerprint examiners had made zero erroneous identifications (Romandetti, 2004).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Since Jennings, the courts have embraced fingerprints as a sort of â€œgold standardâ€ for identification.Â In Grice v. State, 142 Tex. Crim, 4, 151, S.W., 2nd 211, (1941), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals did write (Leo, 2004):
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œIt has occurred to us that instead of the state being called upon to offer proof that
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â no two fingerprints are alike, it may now be considered in order for those taking
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â the opposing view to assume the burden of proving their position.â€Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Fingerprint experts, in court cases, attempted to distinguish their knowledge from other types of expert testimony by stating that they offered facts in place of opinion, claimed special knowledge, and were more certain that other claims of knowledge.Â They never were able to establish conclusively, however, that all fingerprints are unique or that their technique is infallible.Â The evidential legitimacy of latent fingerprints was taken for granted and deeply entrenched.Â The claims that individual distinctiveness marked fingertips had cultural plausibility.Â Popular culture and scientific arenas both shared the idea that identity could be read from the physical body (Mnookin, 2003).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â As courts began confronting more sophisticated scientific evidence such as latent fingerprint evidence in the late 1960s and 1970s, a legal test to determine admissibility was needed.Â One approach, adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court, is known as the reliability test.Â Another was based on Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923), a federal case decided in the District of Columbia Circuit Court in 1923.Â The court decided that scientific technique â€œmust be sufficiently established to have gained general acceptance in the particular field in which it belongs.â€Â Under Frye standards, it isnâ€™t enough that qualified experts testify that a technique is valid.Â The technique must be â€œgenerally acceptedâ€ by the relevant scientific community (Scientific Evidence â€“ Frye V. United States, 2007).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â A 1966 amendment to Federal Criminal Rule 16 governs pretrial disclosure of scientific reports in criminal litigation.Â An accompanying committee note mentions reports on fingerprints (Scientific Evidence â€“ Frye V. United States, 2007).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The Frye rule had detractors.Â The general acceptance test requires two steps.Â First, identifying the field in which the underlying principle falls and second, determining whether that principle has been generally accepted by members of the identified field.Â The problem with the first step is that many scientific techniques do not fall within the sphere of influence of a single academic area or professional discipline.Â Selecting the proper field can be difficult.Â Selection of the field will affect whether a technique satisfies the general acceptance test.Â As for the second step, the percentage of those in the field who must accept the technique has never been specified outright.Â Critics of Frye affirm that the delay of permitting the technique to gain general acceptance â€œprecludes too much relevant evidence for purposes of the fact determining processâ€ (Scientific Evidence â€“ Frye V. United States, 2007).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Some courts believe the Federal Rules of Evidence were a more flexible standard than Frye.Â They do not rely on general acceptance as an absolute prerequisite for admissibility of scientific evidence like latent fingerprints.Â In fact, part of the Federal Rules of Evidence governs admissibility of all evidence, including expert testimony, in federal courts.Â Many states have adopted similar codes (Saferstein, 2007).Â C.Â The Daubert Ruling and How It Affected Latent Fingerprint Evidence
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In what would be known as a landmark ruling, in the case of William Daubert, et Ux, Etc, et Al., Petitioners V. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, the United States Supreme Courtâ€™s assertion that general acceptance, or the Frye standard, is not an absolute prerequisite to the admissibility of scientific evidence under the Federal Rules of Evidence (Saferstein, 2007).Â The Rules of Evidence, particularly Rule 702, assured that the trial judge retained the task of ensuring that any expertâ€™s testimony rested upon reliable foundations and was relevant to the case.Â Trial judges became the â€œgatekeeperâ€ to preventing â€œjunk scienceâ€ from ever entering the court room (Leo, 2004).Â By being the gatekeeper, judges judged the admissibility and reliability of all scientific evidence which was presented in court.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The Daubert ruling stated that (Lee & Gaensslen, 2001):
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The trial judge must still screen scientific evidence to ensure it is relevant and reliable
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œThe focus, of course, must be solely on principles and methodology, not on the conclusions they generateâ€
-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Factors the court should include:
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Testing and validation
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Peer review
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Rate of error
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œGeneral acceptanceâ€Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The court offered guidelines on how the judges could gauge the authenticity of the scientific evidence (Saferstein, 2007).Â Suggestions included:
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1. Whether the scientific technique or theory can be (and has been) tested
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 2. Whether the technique or theory has been subject to peer review and publication
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 3. The techniqueâ€™s potential rate of error
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 4. Existence and maintenance of standards controlling the techniqueâ€™s operation
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 5. Whether the scientific theory or method has attracted widespread acceptance within a
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â relevant scientific communityÂ
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In a 1999 decision between Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael (131 F. 3d. 1433, 11th Cir. 12/23/97), additional factors were added for a court to consider in determining admissibility of a scientific technique or theory.Â The Daubert ruling impacted only â€œexpertâ€ testimony, but prosecutors had the option of entering latent fingerprint evidence as â€œtechnical or other specialized knowledgeâ€ to avoid Daubertâ€™s rigorous requirements.Â Under Kumho, the court ruled that Daubert applies to all expert testimony, whether expert, technical, or specialized knowledge (Lee & Gaensslen, 2001).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In 1999, Byron Mitchell was charged with robbery in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.Â He became the first defendant to challenge the admissibility of latent fingerprint testimony following Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael.Â Studies establishing the validity of latent print identification did not exist.Â This led Mitchell to argue that latent fingerprint identification failed to meet Daubert-Kumhoâ€™s demands for reliable evidence.Â His challenge was unsuccessful, but led to nearly forty admissibility challenges (Cole, 2005).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Mitchellâ€™s challenge is an indication that more challenges on the reliability of latent fingerprints when used for identification could come up in courts.Â Mitchell was a significant case for two main reasons.Â First, it very strongly upheld admissibility of testimony by defense experts about latent print identification.Â Second, the court attempted to put to rest questions about admissibility by saying its opinions shouldnâ€™t be read to require Daubert hearings every time a case involving latent fingerprint evidence came up in courts (Cole, 2005).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The United States government set presented evidence supporting three premises on the science of friction ridge (fingerprint) evidence (Lee & Gaensslen, 2001).Â They are as follows:
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Premise I. â€“ Human friction ridges are unique and permanent.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Premise II. â€“ Human friction ridge arrangements are unique and permanent.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Premise III. â€“ Individualization, that is, positive identification, can result from Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â comparisons of friction ridge skin or impressions containing sufficient quality (clarity) Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â and quantity of unique friction ridge detail.
The scientific basis for uniqueness and permanence begins with an understanding of friction ridge skin development.Â It involves the sciences of biology, embryology, and genetics.Â The aggregate of the ridges permits individualization.Â Friction ridge detail in impressions is observed in three levels: level one includes the general flow and may include information which enables orientation, core and delta location, and distinction between finger versus palm, but does not enable individualization; level two includes bifurcation, dot or combinations thereof and enables individualization; level three includes all dimensional attributes of a friction ridge, such as deviation, width, shape, contour, scars, and permanent details.Â Friction ridge examination must adhere to a strict standard scientific method and consist of four elements: analysis, comparison, evaluation, and verification (ACE-V) (Lee & Gaensslen, 2001).Â D. How Fingerprint Evidence Fails Daubert Standards
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The court determined in Daubert that enumerated factors should be used flexibly, but instead the courts, thereafter, have attempted to conduct Daubert analyses and use these factors as a checklist.Â Fingerprints often fail to measure up to these factors, and Daubert analyses which are conducted are shoddy.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Science should be able to be tested under Daubert.Â The claim that no two fingerprints are identical is observed, and difficult to test.Â In order to test such a claim, it would involve collection and evaluation of the fingerprints of every known individual.Â Variations in friction ridge patterns that make up fingerprints are potentially limitless.Â Regardless, it doesnâ€™t mean that there is no possibility that two indistinguishably similar fingerprints could be found.Â Only one study has ever been conducted to test the allegation that fingerprints are unique.Â That study was conducted for United States v. Mitchell.Â It showed â€œprobabilistic dataâ€ incapable of supporting uniqueness.Â Forensic microscopic David Stoney stated that â€œmathematically quantifying the endless variations of shapeâ€ poses the difficulty in preparing a statistical model.Â Without a model, fingerprint experts can only offer subjective opinion.Â No studies have been conducted to assess the probability on identifications made from partial prints found at crime scenes.Â Fingerprinting as an identification science fails the Daubert criteria of testability (Romandetti, 2004).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â A science must be subjected to peer review and publication under Daubert.Â The purpose of the peer review and publication requirement is to help inform the gatekeeper (judge) regarding the adequacy of the research.Â Although peer review should not be â€œdispositiveâ€ of sound science, â€œsubmission to the scrutiny of the scientific community is a component of good science.â€Â In the case of fingerprint examiners, reviewers already know what their colleagues decided, so it is a dubious review.Â The case review method used by fingerprint examiners doesnâ€™t meet the Daubert peer review requirement (Romandetti, 2004).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â There is always an error rate when science is involved.Â There has never been a study done on the likelihood of finding fingerprint matches between two people, so there is also no error rate known on the methodology.Â The International Association of Identification goes so far as to forbid its certified examiners from testifying to â€œpossible, probable, or likelyâ€ identifications, or they risk decertification.Â Fingerprint examiners have not only a lack of known error rate, but do not use a standard method to establish identity.Â The identification of a fingerprint is merely the subjective opinion of an examiner (Romandetti, 2004).Â This too, fails Daubert standards.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Science must be generally accepted under Daubert.Â In terms of culture and the legal system, fingerprint evidence has been accepted as both valid and reliable.Â Daubert does not discuss popular opinions.Â Daubertâ€™s purpose is to determine what acceptance means within the relevant scientific community.Â There hasnâ€™t been a scientific community outside fingerprint examiners, however, who have generally accepted fingerprint science.Â Fingerprint testimony fails to meet this Daubert standard as well (Romandetti, 2004).Â E. How Fingerprint Evidence Can Satisfy The Goals of Daubert
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The consequences of failing to satisfy admissibility standards as they stand should not apply to fingerprint evidence.Â The ramifications of complete exclusion would be incredible.Â Instead of exclusion, fingerprint evidence should, however, be limited.Â The ultimate goal is to ensure the use of evidence assumed, not proven, to be accurate, while avoiding the risk of deterring research.Â Admitting fingerprint evidence on a limited basis maintains the purpose of Daubert and Kumho while avoiding the consequences of complete exclusion (Romandetti, 2004).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In January 2002, Judge Louis Pollack made a surprising ruling on the admissibility of fingerprint evidence.Â In United States v. Llerna Plaza, Pollack issued an opinion that fingerprint identification was not a legitimate form of scientific evidence.Â Six weeks later he reversed his decision (Mnookin, 2003).Â He had initially ordered that fingerprint expert testimony be limited to how the prints were obtained, showing the prints to the jury, and a drawn conclusion about the origin of the print.Â He later held that the expert could give his own conclusions and completely admit the contested evidence (Romandetti, 2004).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â One way that todayâ€™s courts can address this problem of admissibility under Daubert is to limit fingerprint evidence similar to how handwriting evidence was limited in United States v. Hines. In Hines, the court allowed an examiner to explain similarities and differences, but did not allow the expert to draw conclusions or testify as to what likelihood samples were made by the same person.Â This was Judge Pollackâ€™s approach in United States v. Llera Plaza before reversing himself (Romandetti, 2004).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Courts have an obligation to make experts draw a clear line between true knowledge and what they do not know.Â A fingerprint examiner should have to give his basis for knowledge, be it personal impression or a database of information.Â Instead of testifying on the conclusivity of a fingerprint, he should have to let the court know that his knowledge is limited to the known prints with which an unknown print was compared.Â Instead of testifying with absolute certainty, he should give a realistic estimate of the uniqueness of prints based on factors that he can explain to the court (Romandetti, 2004).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â These limitations allow judges and juries to consider the weight of evidence and still advance the goals of Daubert without disrupting the justice system.Â Limiting examiners to what they actually know about latent fingerprint evidence, and what they can demonstrate, serves the goal of accuracy.Â An expert witnessâ€™ purpose is to assist the trier of fact.Â Without limitation, the court has little choice but to take the word of the examiner in a discipline long touted as infallible.Â These changes should spur more research within the discipline and force examiners to test and prove their claims scientifically (Romandetti, 2004).Â Conclusion
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Although latent fingerprint evidence has long been upheld in judicial courts throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, there is evidence which shows there is room for change in how it has been presented in order to meet Daubert standards.Â Admissibility is not a given when it comes to latent fingerprint evidence, and expert testimony can be questioned.Â Expert testimony on latent fingerprint evidence should be scrutinized by judges and conducted within safe boundaries and all unknown variables of the evidence should be disclosed fully to the jury seated on each case.Â With the approach of real knowledge over unknowns, unsupported claims about fingerprint evidence will be eliminated and the goals of the Daubert ruling will be met.Â Remarks
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Judges should closely scrutinize the admission of latent fingerprint evidence until the reliability of the science behind it can be further proven.Â Daubert requires complete exclusion of latent fingerprint evidence because it fails all of the standards, however, an exception should be made until further studies can test the accuracy of the evidence.Â All expert testimony should fully reveal any shortcomings and unknown variables to the judge and jury.Â Fingerprint evidence may not be perfect but it can still be used with limitations.Â Recommendations
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â If science should be able to be testable under Daubert, then latent fingerprint science should advance itself (in its field) to the point that it can provide testable results.Â It is my recommendation that the Federal Bureau of Investigations, which holds possibly the largest repository of latent fingerprint identification cards in the world, begin formulating a method of collecting and examining the fingerprint of every known individual.Â This would be an incredibly expensive task, but is one they have already started.Â A study should also be conducted to assess the probability on identifications made from partial prints found at crime scenes.Â The FBI would be a great resource for conducting such a study.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â As for peer review, I think it is highly unusual that there are not journals of science for latent print examiners and those who deal with fingerprints.Â Submission of studies should be done to such journals of science.Â Without them, there is no access to the type of peer review necessary for proper scrutiny.Â It would be my recommendation that bodies of latent print examiners form a governing body or bodies and create a scholarly journal wherein they can publish their scientific evidence.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â A standard method from which to establish identity from latent fingerprints should be a high priority for fingerprint examiners.Â They should not rely on state law to set the precedent, but should go above and beyond that to a standard that would meet the requirements of Daubert.Â Again, there is room for study in this area.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The old popular cultural ideas that fingerprint science is infallible must be pushed into history and a new idealism of hard scientific fact must come to the forefront, in my opinion.Â Gone are the days when an â€œexpertâ€ can get up in court and expect that his words are gold.Â The fingerprint community must come to an understanding that in a scientifically advanced society the explanations of why something is the way it is must also be more advanced and proven.Â More scientific communities must be brought on board to accepting latent fingerprint evidence as science if there is to be any credibility.Â Â References
Cole, S.A. (2005). Does "Yes" Really Mean Yes? The Attempt To
Close Debate On The Admissibility of Fingerprint Testimony. Jurimetrics, 45 (Summer 2005).
Lee, H.C., & Gaensslen, R.E. (2001). Advances In Fingerprint Technology (2nd Ed).Boca Raton,FL: CRC Press.
Leo, Wm. (2005).Â What are the Effects of the Daubert Decision on Fingerprint Identification?Â The Print.Â July/Aug. 2005, 21(4). Retrieved July 29, 2007, from
Mnookin, J. (2003). Fingerprints: Not a gold standard.Â Issues in Science and Technology. FallÂ 2003.
Romandetti, K. (2004). Recognizing and Responding To a Problem With The Admissibility of Fingerprint Evidence Under Daubert. Jurimetrics, 45 (Fall 2004).
Saferstein, R. (2007). Criminalistics: An Introduction To Forensic Science (9th Ed). Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Scientific-Evidence-Frye V. United States. (2007).Â Frye V. United States In â€œLaw Library â€“ American Law & Legalâ€ [Web]. Net Industries.Â Retrieved Aug. 14, 2007, from
Woodward, J.D., Orlans, N.M., Higgins, P.T. (2003). Biometrics. New York: McGraw-HillÂ Professional.Â Â
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