As experienced Massachusetts criminal defense lawyers have understood for decades, there is no known scientific testing available that demonstrates the reliability and accuracy of fingerprint opinion evidence. There is no known “scientific community” which has vetted the technique employed by fingerprint “experts.” Since all fingerprint evidence is, at its core, nothing more than an individual’s opinion that a partial fingerprint looks an awful lot like another fingerprint, there is no known error rate for fingerprint “analysis.” Beginning in 1995, proficiency examinations were given to fingerprint examiners. Unfortunately, only 44% of the participating examiners were able to correctly identify a mere five latent prints and 31% incorrectly matched the latent print to a known print. Possession of Truth, 46 J. FORENSIC IDENTIFICATION 521, 524 (1996).
In an attempt to assure the accuracy of “expert” fingerprint opinion evidence, a number of states and foreign countries use “Galton Point Minima” – requiring that a latent print and a known print have a minimum number of points in common to qualify as a “match.” For example, the United Kingdom utilizes a 16 point minimum. United States vs. Havvard, 117 F.Supp. 2d 848, 853 (S.D.Ind. 2000). “[T]here is no single quantifiable standard for rendering an identification opinion because of differences in both the quantity of characteristics shown in the latent print and the quality of the image.” Id. The FBI employs no such minimum point standard. Rather than adopt a standard that would exclude potential “matches” when sufficient points of commonality are absent, the FBI “experts” will declare a match if the “expert” believes that the latent print and known print look alike. A standard less “methodology” is no methodology at all.
If a prosecutor is using fingerprint evidence in an attempt to prove you committed a crime, retain a skilled Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer to file a motion challenging the admissibility of the fingerprint “expert’s” opinion.
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