ForensicExperts: Questioned Document Examination
Preparationand presentation of documents to be used as evidence in a court oflaw follow an outlined guideline. Forensic analysts are given enoughtime for preparation and once done, can be presented for use bylawyers, parties involved and the judge to make a fair ruling. Thisruling lays laser-like focus to the procedures followed by documentanalysts, specifically, handwriting analysts, to present documents ina court. The article also highlights possible questions that may beasked by the defendant as well as the prosecutor. The paper alsoshows a visual image that may be used in a court of law as evidence.
Whenevidence in a court of law involves handwritten material, investorsrely on investigators to confirm a match by analyzing handwritings.This procedure uses scientific processes and methods to provideevidence on questionable documents, and is, therefore, calledQuestioned Document Examination (QDE). QDE is used to check forforgery or alteration. The procedure is tedious and forensichandwriting analysts use the principle of uniqueness in people’shandwriting, studying how people form letters and the physiologicalattribute of writing. Gathering of this information takes time andonce complete, can be presented in a court of law
Presentationof evidence in a court of law happens in a systematic way, startingwith simple things such as grooming. Grooming is a crucial aspectwhile visiting a court of law. For men, the dress code shouldpreferably be a tucked in collared shirt, ideally with a tie and longpants. A jacket is optional, and shoes should be worn with socks. Forwomen, a dress or skirt that is preferably not more than two inchesabove the knees, or long pants a blouse and a sweater, which isoptional. Alternatively, a casual dress shirt is allowed. Shoesshould also be worn. (Massachusetts Court System, 2016)
Questionsexpectedtobe asked by theprosecution
1.What does your work entail?
2.Do you believe you make an impact on justice?
3.Tell us about your work experience?
4.How credible is your work?
5.How long does it take to match handwritings?
6.Can a handwriting be forged?
7.What is the relation between personality and handwriting?
8.Does the document contain a sufficient amount of writing to permitidentification?
9.What are the similarities or differences in the writings?
10.How do you ascertain the owner of handwriting?
Questionsexpectedtobe asked by theDefense
1.Who is a handwriting expert?
2.How unique are handwritings?
3.Would you term the defendant`s handwriting as unique?
4.Are there cases where handwritings are similar?
5.Can a handwriting change?
6.Are there factors that can cause a change in handwriting?
7.Is there a probability that there is someone with the samehandwriting as the defendant?
8.Can a handwriting be forged?
9.What discrepancies are there in the two documents?
10.What shows that the handwriting doesn`t belong to the aggrievedparty?
Presentationof Evidence in a Court of Law
Evidenceto be presented in a court of law should be relevant, genuine andvalid. Exhibits to be presented should be admitted into evidence.This means that there should be at least four copies (The originalfor the court, for the presenter, for the opposing party and thewitness) Exhibits can also be presented in an exhibit book. Anexhibit book is a binder in which exhibits are marked by number orletter (Colorado Judicial System, 2015). Presenting exhibits requirethe following steps:Step 1: Marking of the exhibit. Exhibit may bemarked before or during the hearing
Step2: Show exhibit to the involved party.
Step3: Hand a copy to the Judge.
Step4: Hand a copy to the witness.
Steps1-4 need to be done only once if the presenter is using an exhibitbook.
Step5: Show exhibit to witness(es). The witness should be asked if theyrecognize the document(s).
Step6: Lay basis for the exhibit.
Step7: Present the exhibit as evidence.
Step8: Wait. The opposing parties or the judge may admit or deny.
Fornumerous exhibits, steps 5 – 8 should be repeated for each exhibit
Inthe quest for justice, experts must provide credible documents in acourt of law. Presentation of these documents is done in asystematic manner, which ensures that all parties involved follow upand have opportunities to scrutinize documents or raise argumentsfrom them. The defendants have the right to defend him/herselfaccordingly while giving reasonable grounds to forego the providedevidence. From the validity of evidence provided and the defensearguments by the defendant, the judge can then make a fair and finalruling.
Figure1.0: A threat note that may be presented as evidence
COURTS, B. C. (2015, January 23). Presenting Evidence in Court – Colorado Judicial Branch. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from Colorado Judicial: https://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/20th_Judicial_District/Brochure%20-%20Evidence%20Final%20012315.pdf
System, M. C. (n.d.). What should I wear to court? Retrieved December 23, 2016, from Massachusetts Court System: http://www.mass.gov/courts/selfhelp/criminal-law/attire.html