The Reliability of Latent Print Individualization: Brief of Amici Curiae Submitted on Behalf of Scientists and Scholars by the New England Innocence Project, Commonwealth v. Patterson

42(No. 1) Crim. Law Bulletin 21 (2006)

19 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2015  

David M. Siegel

New England Law | Boston

Mark Acree

APEX Consulting

Robert Bradley

Illinois State University - Department of Politics and Government

Simon A. Cole

University of California - Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society

David L. Faigman

University of California Hastings College of the Law

Stephen E Fienberg

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Paul C. Giannelli

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Lyn Haber

Human Factors Consultants

Ralph Norman Haber

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Psychology; Human Factors Consultants

Donald Kennedy

Stanford University

Jennifer Mnookin

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Joelle Anne Moreno

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law

Jane Campbell Moriarty

Duquesne University - School of Law

D. Michael Risinger

Seton Hall University School of Law

John R Vokey

University of Lethbridge

Sandy Zabell

Northwestern University

Date Written: Spring, 2006

Abstract

In Commonwealth v. Patterson, Massachusetts’ highest court sought amicus curiae briefs on this question: has the Commonwealth met its burden under Commonwealth v. Lanigan, 419 Mass. 15 (1994), and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993), to establish the reliability of latent fingerprint individualization applying ACE-V methodology to simultaneous impressions. This marks the first time in the debate over the reliability of latent print evidence, dating from a 1999 hearing in United States v. Mitchell, 365 F.3d 215 (3d Cir. 2004), that a court has issued such a solicitation. Patterson involved an extensive Daubert challenge to both the general reliability of latent fingerprint individualization using the ACE-V (Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation-Verification) "methodology" and its reliability as specifically applied to so-called "simultaneous impressions." When no single latent print contains sufficient information to warrant a conclusion of individualization, latent print examiners sometimes aggregate information across multiple impressions if they think they can determine that the impressions were deposited simultaneously, thus attributing the impressions to a single donor. This amicus curiae brief was filed by the New England Innocence Project on behalf of fifteen scientists and scholars from a variety of disciplines (biology, forensic science, law, linguistics, mathematics, political science, psychology, science and technology studies, and statistics). It represents the clearest expression to date of "the consensus view of the scientific community," namely, that the reliability of latent fingerprint individualization has not been established, that the community of latent fingerprint examiners is neither sufficiently independent nor objective to establish this reliability, and that the reliability of latent print individualization in general should be established before a more controversial technique (simultaneous impressions) is accepted. Counsel of record was David M. Siegel, New England Law | Boston.

Keywords: Evidence, fingerprint identification, ACE-V methodology, latent fingerprint examiners, latent fingerprint individualization, simultaneous fingerprint impressions, expert testimony, crime laboratories

Suggested Citation

Siegel, David M. and Acree, Mark and Bradley, Robert and Cole, Simon A. and Faigman, David L. and Fienberg, Stephen E and Giannelli, Paul C. and Haber, Lyn and Haber, Ralph Norman and Kennedy, Donald and Mnookin, Jennifer L. and Moreno, Joelle Anne and Moriarty, Jane C. and Risinger, D. Michael and Vokey, John R and Zabell, Sandy, The Reliability of Latent Print Individualization: Brief of Amici Curiae Submitted on Behalf of Scientists and Scholars by the New England Innocence Project, Commonwealth v. Patterson (Spring, 2006). 42(No. 1) Crim. Law Bulletin 21 (2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2593854

David M. Siegel (Contact Author)

New England Law | Boston ( email )

154 Stuart St.
Boston, MA 02116
United States
(617) 422-7270 (Phone)
(617) 422-7453 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.nesl.edu/clsr/

Mark Acree

APEX Consulting ( email )

100 S. Division Street
Cayuga, IN 47928
United States

Robert Bradley

Illinois State University - Department of Politics and Government

IL
United States

Simon A. Cole

University of California - Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society ( email )

2340 Social Ecology 2, RM
Irvine, CA 92697
949-824-1443 (Phone)
949-824-3001 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.seweb.uci.edu/faculty/cole/

David L. Faigman

University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

Stephen E Fienberg

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Paul C. Giannelli

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-2098 (Phone)
216-368-2086 (Fax)

Lyn Haber

Human Factors Consultants ( email )

313 Ridge View Drive
Swall Meadows, CA 93514
United States

Ralph Norman Haber

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Psychology

1009 Behavioral Sciences Building (BSB)
1007 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

Human Factors Consultants

313 Ridge View Drive
Swall Meadows, CA 93514
United States

Donald Kennedy

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Jennifer L. Mnookin

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

Joelle Anne Moreno

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law ( email )

11200 SW 8th St.
RDB Hall 1097
Miami, FL 33199
United States
305-348-1152 (Phone)
305-348-7293 (Fax)

Jane C. Moriarty

Duquesne University - School of Law ( email )

600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
United States

D. Michael Risinger

Seton Hall University School of Law ( email )

One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5210
United States
(973) 642-8834 (Phone)

John R Vokey

University of Lethbridge ( email )

4401 University Drive
Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 3M4
Canada

Sandy Zabell

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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