Certainty and Uncertainty in Reporting Fingerprint Evidence

April 08, 2019

Words count.  And when forensic discipline experts discuss a ‘match,’ a correspondence between crime scene evidence, words have particular impact.  Words count so much that when experts use scientifically-indefensible terms or descriptions, such as “and no one else in the world has the same print,” the weight given to such proof is high.  It is less high when the experts tone down their language to what science permits.  And, importantly, when experts give those conclusions – either the extraordinarily high-weight conclusions or the more tempered but scientifically justifiable ones, cross-examination makes no difference – the direct examination seems to be all that matters.  Such are the conclusions of this recent study – and it is essential reading for those who present experts, cross-examine experts, or determine what an expert may say in court.


Certainty and Uncertainty in Reporting Fingerprint Evidence Kadane, J. B., & Koehler, J. J. (2018). Certainty and uncertainty in reporting fingerprint evidence. Daedalus, 147, 119-134.