When she was a girl, the young woman had emigrated with her family to the United States from her home country in Africa. She grew up in the northeastern USA and was now attending college. As part of her application for United States citizenship she must present her birth certificate. Her father sent the birth certificate to her. The birth certificate had apparent alterations. Government officials refused to accept the birth as valid because her appearance did not match the age on the birth certificate. She was born in 1994 yet birth certificate appears to state her year of birth as 1984.
The decedent signed a life insurance beneficiary form a few weeks after having brain surgery. The plaintiff claimed the signature was not executed by the decedent. The defense claimed that the decedent had signed the document and the differences are attributed to the effects of brain surgery.
Forensic Scientists differ when defining document examination. Is it a science? If so, which science? What is our scientific analysis? Or, as some people believe, is document examination an art?
In the field of Forensic Document Examination, one of the most important responsibilities is to locate and examine all of the known and questioned originals involved in the case. This article is a brief explanation with photographs that will demonstrate the value of evidence that can only be found in originals.
Ethics is the basic principle of Right Action, the Standard of Character (good moral character that is).
Occasionally, the document examiner encounters a signature or writing that is believed to be a forgery but in reality was written by a blind or visually impaired individual. There are various features of blind writing that could initially be mistaken for a forgery, so it is understandable that this could occur.
Before the fountain pen began to be widely used in the late 1800s, writing was mainly done at a desk with a steel nib pen that constantly had to be dipped into an inkwell. The fountain pen, which was designed to carry its own ink supply, brought greater convenience and portability to the writing process.
As with any other profession, document examiners have a range of expertise and experience. As important as it is for your client to make a clear assessment of your abilities, it is up to you to determine in advance, with a high degree of accuracy, whether the document examiner you plan to hire will perform the most accurate assessments and be ready to back up those assessments with a scientifically repeatable methodology in court.
We appreciate Windle Turley, Esq. for his excellent lecture on "Working with an Expert Witness...the Plaintiff Attorney's Prospective."
None of us wants to feel that our opinions are tainted by bias. The ability to recognize when bias is an influence in an expert's opinion and the skill of an expert to overcome his or her biases is integral to an expert's credibility.