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Significance and Use
Document examiners begin examinations from a point of neutrality. There are an infinite number of gradations of opinion toward an identification or toward an elimination. It is in those cases wherein the opinion is less than definite that careful attention is especially needed in the choice of language used to convey the weight of the evidence.
Common sense dictates that we must limit the terminology we use in expressing our degrees of confidence in the evidence to terms that are readily understandable to those who use our services (including investigators, attorneys, judges, and jury members), as well as to other document examiners. The expressions used to differentiate the gradations of opinions should not be considered as strongly defined “categories”. These expressions should be guidelines without sharply defined boundaries.
When a forensic document examiner chooses to use one of the terms defined below, the listener or reader can assume that this is what the examiner intended the term to mean. To avoid the possibility of misinterpretation of a term where the expert is not present to explain the guidelines in this standard, the appropriate definition(s) could be quoted in or appended to reports.
The examples are given both in the first person and in third person since both methods of reporting are used by document examiners and since both forms meet the main purpose of the standard, i. e., to suggest terminology that is readily understandable. These examples should not be regarded as the only ways to utilize probability statements in reports and testimony. In following any guidelines, the examiner should always bear in mind that sometimes the examination will lead into paths that cannot be anticipated and that no guidelines can cover exactly.
Although the material that follows deals with handwriting, forensic document examiners may apply this terminology to other examinations within the scope of their work, as described in Guide E 444
This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.
1.1 This terminology is intended to assist forensic document examiners in expressing conclusions or opinions based on their examinations.
1.2 The terms in this terminology are based on the report of a committee of the Questioned Document Section of the American Academy of Forensic Science that was adopted as the recommended guidelines in reports and testimony by the Questioned Document Section of the American Academy of Forensic Science and the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners .
2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.
E444 Guide for Scope of Work of Forensic Document Examiners
ICS Number Code 01.040.11 (Health care technology (Vocabularies))
ASTM E1658-08, Standard Terminology for Expressing Conclusions of Forensic Document Examiners, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2008, www.astm.orgBack to Top