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According to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, like fingerprint analysis, handwriting comparison testimony has a long history of admissibility in the courts of the United States. The fact that handwriting comparison analysis has achieved widespread and lasting acceptance in the expert community gives the court the assurance of reliability that the Daubert standard requires. Furthermore, as with expert testimony on fingerprints, the role of the handwriting expert is primarily to draw the jury's attention to similarities between a known exemplar and a contested sample.
Patrick Leroy Crisp appeals multiple convictions arising from an armed bank robbery carried out in Durham, North Carolina, on June 13, 2001. Crisp maintains that his trial was tainted by the Government's presentation of inadmissible expert testimony.
Did the disciplines of forensic fingerprint analysis and forensic handwriting analysis satisfy the criteria for expert opinion testimony under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 125 L. Ed. 2d 469, 113 S. Ct. 2786 (1993)?
The court held that the district court was well within its discretion in accepting at face value the consensus of the expert and judicial communities that the fingerprint identification technique was reliable because Crisp offered no reason to believe that the general acceptance of the principles underlying fingerprint identification had been misplaced for decades. Moreover, the requisite standards controlling the technique's operation existed because fingerprint analysts were held to a consistent "points and characteristics" approach to identification and analysts were consistently subjected to testing and proficiency requirements. Similarly, the opinions of the handwriting expert were properly admitted because handwriting comparison analysis had achieved widespread and lasting acceptance in the expert community, the handwriting expert merely pointed out certain unique characteristics shared by defendant's handwriting and the handwriting found in a note used during the bank robbery, and Crisp offered no other reasons to doubt handwriting analysis evidence in general.