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Minerva Medicolegale 2009 March;129(1):61-67

language: English

Suggestions for a better approach to the forensic evaluation of impression evidence

Howitt D. G.

Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science University of California, Davis, CA, USA


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With the advent of the Daubert decision and the precise statistical justification associated with DNA analysis there has been more and more criticism of forensic examiners and the subjectivity of their evidence. The requirement that examiners provide an assessment of the likelihood that the evidence they present could have come about by pure chance is long overdue. In the analysis of tool marks some forensic examiners have already adopted a simple methodology, consecutive line matching, that in combination with compiled databases assures them that the probability that the match they identify is highly unlikely to have been coincidental. This paper outlines the general principles that determine of the significance of a particular correspondence of impression evidence, what is known about these comparisons and the way in which the calculation of the corresponding probability, that it could have occurred by pure chance, can be done.

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