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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.
This article is based upon the text of the article by the same name which was printed in the Trial Briefs, the quarterly publication of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, in the 3rd Quarter of 1988. Some modifications to the text and format have been made.
In this case, comments were added to a document. Were they written by the same person who wrote the body of the document? The case was atypical because it focused on printed rather than cursive writing. Although there was not a large amount of writing, a conclusive opinion was possible. The Questioned Document is a photocopy of a government form. K1 refers to the known writing, and Q1,2 and 3 are the questioned writing.
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.