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Another ‘View’ of Fingerprint Evidence: The Preparation of Clearer Exhibits Gives the Judge and Jury a Better View of Fingerprint Images
By Michael Cherry; Edward Imwinkelried; Manfred Schenk
In the vast majority of cases in which the prosecution presents fingerprint testimony, the jury convicts. That result should not come as a surprise. Most members of the general public firmly believe fingerprint examiners’ claim that they can accurately match crime scene impressions with the known fingerprints of defendants. Most prosecutors share that belief, and as a result they frequently offer examiners’ testimony about fingerprint analysis. Similarly, the clear majority of judges subscribe to the belief; and given that belief, in the typical case they admit fingerprint testimony over a defense objection. Since juries draw their ranks from the members of the general public, jurors tend to accept such testimony and confidently rely on it as a basis for convictions. This widespread belief helps explain why the defense probably loses over 90 percent of the trials in which the prosecution presents an examiner’s testimony to a fingerprint match.
Yet, for well over a decade there have bee
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