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Wondering about case law, legalities, and research in the field of Forensic Handwriting Analysis and / or Questioned Document Examination?

The downloads below will provide that information.

 

 

IS HANDWRITING ANALYSIS AN INVASION OF PRIVACY?

The federal government protects my field of handwriting analysis. Per the U.S. Constitution, “a person has no expectation of privacy in handwriting because it is a physical characteristic which is constantly exposed to the public. The US law is categorical of the fact that just as finger prints can be used for identification purposes, so can a person’s hand writing.”  The U.S. Supreme Court in 1977 in the case “United States v. Sydney Rosinsky” (FRP249) gave the verdict: “The way a person’s handwriting looks is considered public information – like for example, how the person dresses, their facial expressions, and their body language. So, psychological analysis extracted from handwriting exemplars is not considered a violation of the right to privacy of the individual. “

 

Next, the federal government protects my field of handwriting analysis. Per the U.S. Constitution, “a person has no expectation of privacy in handwriting because it is a physical characteristic which is constantly exposed to the public. The US law is categorical of the fact that just as finger prints can be used for identification purposes, so can a person’s hand writing.”  The U.S. Supreme Court in 1977 in the case “United States v. Sydney Rosinsky” (FRP249) gave the verdict: “The way a person’s handwriting looks is considered public information – like for example, how the person dresses, their facial expressions, and their body language. So, psychological analysis extracted from handwriting exemplars is not considered a violation of the right to privacy of the individual. “ Additionally, in 1973 the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment is not violated by a compelled production of ‘physical characteristics’ that are constantly exposed to the public. The court stated: “Handwriting, like speech, is repeatedly shown to the public and there is no expectation of privacy in the physical characteristics of a person’s script.” (United States v Mara, 410 U.S. 19, 41 LW 4185). In another case, the Supreme Court held that the "physical characteristics of a person’s voice or handwriting, tone of voice, or facial characteristics, being constantly exposed to the public view, are not within the protection of the Fourth Amendment." (United States v Dionisio, 410 U.S. 1, 41 LW 4180). The Supreme Court also held that the complied production of handwriting exemplars does not violate the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Moreover, the court stated: “A handwriting sample, the words or content written is an identifying characteristic that falls outside of the area of protection.” (Gilbert v California, 388 U.S. 263). Then in 1977, in another court stated, “Handwriting is public behavior; there is no intrusion of privacy.” (United States v Sydney W. Rosinsky, FR.P249, 1977). Finally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Washington, D.C. stated in an excerpt, “Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Handwriting Analysis can be used for employee selection….”.

 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A QDE & FHWA?

A QDE is a  Questioned Document Expert & an FHWA is a Forensic Handwriting Analyst. QDEs match who wrote what such as a forgery or anonymous notes, and compare it to the known samples. QDEs prefer (and usually need or are required to examine up to) 10 samples on average. QDEs usually NEED to know the identity of someone. An FHWA does NOT want the name of the person. A FHWA does NOT read the content (unless they are asked to look for deception / honest). FHWAs do NOT care who wrote it, and they ONLY look for personality traits and also have other specifics they can spot related to personality and mental / physical health. A FHWA only needs ONE sample to decipher the writer's personality (of course, the more writing available, usually the more information acquired). Whether trauma as a child, health problems, , written on a wall or knee... whatever the case... the writer has the SAME brain in all of those settings. QDEs go to court, FHWAs "usually" don't. In BOTH CAREERS, the QDE and the FHWA are NOT required (and will NOT usually ask) to have or acquire any preemptive information or background before working on the sample because it is best to remain as objective as possible. 

 

IS HANDWRITING ANALYSIS ADMISSIBLE IN COURT?

The admissibility of a handwriting expert’s testimony starts with Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. This states that an "expert witness may testify if they are proven to have specialized knowledge, sufficient facts or data, and reliable principles or methods used in forming their opinion". In addition to Rule 702, there is Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. This was a Supreme Court case that established the Daubert Standard and the Frye Test also require the court (aka Judge) finds an expert witness sufficiently qualified in order to testify and publicly states that the witness is accepted as an expert. Only then is their analysis admissible in court. Many Judges have had negative experiences with un- or under-trained so-called, self-proclaimed "experts". That's why many judges make it a blanket rule to never allow a handwriting expert into their court. Other judges have a more open mind and rule on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, handwriting admissibility is very court specific.

 

Some of the more common methods employed by an individual attempting to disguise are easily recognized:

Writing very large or very small                                        Writing very fast or very slow
An exaggerated slant of the writing                                  Writing with the off hand
Embellished or unnecessary add-ons to letters               Bizarre letter forms
Heavy Pen Pressure (indentation depth)                         Exaggerated “Block” printing
Combinations of any of the preceding

 

No Longer Considered "Junk Science"...

While some believe that handwriting analysis is a “junk science," the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Forensic Information System for Handwriting (FISH) has elevated handwriting analysis from a junk science to an actual science. In the court of law, any scientific evidence can be admitted if the court (again, court-specific) feels that the information provided will assist the jury in understanding the case and its evidence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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