EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Monday, September 24, 2018

Appendix to "Fingerprints and Miscarriages of Justice" Posted on SSRN

Simon Cole (University of California, Irvine) and Barry Scheck (Cardozo Law School/Innocence Project) have posted "Appendix to 'Fingerprints and Miscarriages of Justice: 'Other' Types of Error and a Post-Conviction Right to Database Searching'" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This Appendix gives one case example of each fingerprint error type discussed in Table 3 of the Article “Fingerprints and Miscarriages of Justice: ‘Other’ Types of Error and A Post-Conviction Right to Database Searching,” for which we know of an actual case. Cases were selected for recentness, novelty (not widely discussed elsewhere in the literature), and the degree to which they illustrate the problem we are discussing. In footnotes, we also list the other known cases of this error type.

Specifically, the Appendix lists 13 errors made in connection with fingerprints and gives a real world example of it. For instance, we have 

6. Error Type II-C. Missed Individualization: Non-Consensus Inconclusive. Seri.

Michael Seri was convicted of child sexual abuse in Connecticut in 2001. A latent print examiner reported that a comparison of a mark from the crime scene was “inconclusive.” Although the terminology was not in use at the time, this was an LCA type of inconclusive report; the examiner apparently believed the mark came from the palm, and was only provided with Seri’s fingerprints. Seri’s uncle, an FBI agent, unsuccessfully asked the police to search the mark in AFIS. Suspicion fell on Angel Laporte, when he was arrested for a very similar crime.20 Seri’s uncle commissioned an independent analysis which reported that Laporte was the source of the mark.21 Thus, the report to the fact finder was “inconclusive,” but the consensus is “individualization.” Seri was exonerated in 2003.



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