The Myth of Fingerprints?

fingerprintpaul simon

To you and me, it might seem like a legal footnote.

But the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts will have a huge impact on some of the unsung heroes of criminal justice.

Of course no innocent person should ever be punished for a crime committed by someone else. On the other hand: Should criminals go free just because they have tricky lawyers who can out-talk hardworking crime-lab scientists?

Are there any latent examiners out there who would like to comment on this? Please chime in, and enlighten us ignorant laymen.

In the meantime, rock on out. Happy Friday!

fingerprints hand

2 thoughts on “The Myth of Fingerprints?

  1. Preacher, You really have your finger on the pulse of the forensic community – and you know that leaves latent prints, right? Did you read the entire decision? I am impressed, this was not on my radar screen.

    The forensic community has been under attack for quite some time. Some is welcome and is a catalyst for much-needed improvement. Some, is simply as you say, a battle of wits. Talent and skill in forensics does not necessarily translate into prowess of articulation. (See how arduous I just made that sentence?)

    I will let you know if your post shows up on any professional blogs – I wouldn’t be surprised. And as soon as I get a chance to read the whole decision, I will see if there is any enlightening I can do.

    At first glance, my thoughts are that testifying in court is an expected and normal part of the job. Forensic analysts generally go out of their way to be available for either prosecution or defense when needed. When I testify, I don’t have any opinion as to innocence or guilt of the defendant. That’s NOT part of my job. My purpose is to present the evidence and explain the results for the judge and jury to understand it. I think of my testimony as objective; it is up to the judge and jury to decide what impact it has on the outcome of the case.

    What I’m trying to say is that I am surprised that this needed to come to the attention of the Supreme Court. For the most part, analysts don’t need to be compelled by the Supreme Court to appear for testimony. It’s what we do! Maybe I’ll have a better understanding of exactly what is involved with the decision when I actually read it. 🙂

  2. 1) He has a very smart lawer.

    2) ( skimmed the decision) The Court is right, about the 6th amendment violation.

    3. There are several procedual issues that I saw that in the case may have skimmed over, one was the track of the cocaine that was found in the police cruiser, unless the police did a sweep of the car after every drop off and logged it in a report, it could have been argued that the cocaine did not belong to the petitioner and was from a previous arrestee…

    that all being said… should the guy be in jail? yeah. Did he do it? probably. Did the state mess up by not having the forensics guys show up for court? yeah.

    Sorry this is so choppy, it is very very late.

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