Volume 28, Issue 4 (October 1983)
Excerpts and Comments on Testimony by Document Examiners in Regard to State of New Jersey v. Bruno Richard Hauptmann
Eight questioned document examiners from different parts of the country conducted individual studies and comparisons of questioned writing and printing on fourteen anonymous ransom notes with known specimens of writing by the defendant Bruno Richard Hauptmann. Testimony was given at the Lindbergh kidnapping trial, held in Flemington, NJ in 1935, identifying the notes as having been written by the same person and that that person was the defendant. No other case in the history of the country had produced so many individuals who testified on the identification of handwriting. The international publicity of the trial and the importance of the identification of the ransom notes also made this case one of the milestones in the history of forensic document examination. This paper describes certain highlights of the testimony rendered by the eight document examiners. Without delving into the evidence itself, it illustrates and compares the procedures, methods, and terminology of the different witnesses on both direct and cross-examination. It shows the high degree of skill and preparedness by well-qualified document examiners and should be an inspiration to experienced practitioners as well as an education to students in the field of questioned documents today.