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Latent Fingerprint Evidence: Fabrication, Not Error
By Pat A. Wertheim
Many fingerprint experts may believe it improper to discuss the topic of
fingerprint fabrication, seeing occurrences as isolated incidents
rather than a pattern of dishonesty. But a simple accounting of known
cases of fingerprint fabrication shows it to be a serious problem, more
serious than that of misattribution, or “erroneous identification” as
fingerprint experts themselves call it. Honest mistakes do occur and,
unfortunately, some go undetected for years, maybe forever. But the
number of such erroneous identifications shown to have actually occurred
is much smaller than the number of cases of fingerprint fabrication
known to have been committed.
In this specialized discussion, the terms “forgery” and “fabrication” have very different and unrelated meanings.1
A forged fingerprint is a fingerprint that actually exists on a
surface, but was deposited there by some person other than the one to
whom it can be correctly identified. For example, if a safe burg
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