1. Can photocopies be examined?
Photocopies can be examined, however, the quality of a photocopy will limit an opinion. If an original document exists, then it should be submitted or arrangements made for its examination. Original documents may contain minute details that may be absent in a photocopy and without an original document there is the possibility that the photocopy may be altered or manipulated.
2. Can cases be faxed for submission?
No they cannot. For chain of custody purposes the documents should be submitted via a delivery service such as FedEx, a courier or hand delivery of the evidence.
3. Can I submit evidence via email/PDF?
Evidence may be submitted via a PDF for an initial review, however, the opinion will be limited based upon details that may be absent or added by the PDF process and without the original document there is the possibility that the PDF may be altered or manipulated. The best evidence should be submitted at a later date.
4. What is the difference between a Forensic Document Examiner and a Graphologist?
A Forensic Document Examiner is a highly trained individual who conducts forensic examinations based upon scientific principles that analyze, compare and evaluate to either identify or eliminate handwriting/printing, typewriters, fonts, photocopies, facsimiles, printing processes, mechanical devices, paper and inks. From these examinations, demonstrative charts and expert opinions are rendered.
A graphologist or graphoanalyst attempts to analyze a person's handwriting to determine personality or character traits.
5. Are Forensic Document Examiners required to be licensed?
Forensic Document Examiners are not required to be licensed.
6. Do Forensic Document Examiners need to meet minimum training qualifications?
Qualified and properly trained examiners must meet minimum qualifications within the field. These minimum qualifications can be found at SWGDOC under Standards/Published Standards. Research your expert's qualifications carefully and compare them to the SWGDOC Minimum Training Requirements for FDE's before retaining any forensic document examiner (including former law enforcement).
7. Is the testimony of Forensic Document Examiners accepted in the courts?
Testimony in the Forensic Document field by properly trained and qualified examiners has been accepted by local, state and federal courts for a number of years. The Department of Justice sponsored research conducted by Drexel University showing that Forensic Document Examination is an expertise specifically gained through proper training and experience and goes beyond the skills of laypeople.
8. What does "court qualified" mean?
"Court qualified" is a worthless term as many unqualified and improperly trained parties are allowed to testify by a Judge as they possess a slightly higher knowledge than a layperson; this is the current standard in the courts for expert testimony under Rule 702. However, this does not equal an endorsement of their qualifications, proper training or experience by the Judge.
9. Has the expert ever been excluded or disqualified as an expert in a court of law by a Judge?
Research your expert thoroughly and ask about any exclusions or disqualifications by a Judge. An exclusion or disqualification as an expert can certainly impede future testimonies.