DPS clarifies accreditation requirements for forensic handwriting examination
Texas law enforcement agencies and prosecuting attorneys need to be aware that anyone presenting court testimony in a criminal trial regarding handwriting examination must work in a laboratory accredited by the Department of Public Safety, under the auspices of ASCLD, Inc. The Department further requires that the laboratory be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body. DPS maintains a list of the accredited laboratories on its web site at www.txdps.state.tx.us. Search under “accreditation” to locate this list. The accreditation requirement resulted from bills adopted by the Texas Legislature in 2003 and 2005 (article 38.35 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and section 411.0205 of the Government Code). Since adoption of these laws, some confusion has existed over which forensic analyses require accreditation. Forensic analysis of questioned documents (for example, printed documents and handwritten documents) must be performed in an accredited laboratory. Examinations not performed in an accredited laboratory do not meet evidence admissibility requirements of Texas law.
If you have any questions about forensic examination of handwriting or questioned documents, or other laboratory accreditation questions, please contact Wil Young, Quality Assurance Specialist, DPS Crime Laboratory Service in Austin at 512-424-5670. DPS clarifies accreditation requirements for forensic handwriting examination.
Is fingerprint comparison on judgments next?
So, let me get this right. In looking at the accreditation list, right now, there are only 3 labs in the world deemed by DPS to have people who can do handwriting comparison? These are going to be some busy people. Nobody in North Texas, West Texas, East Texas, or South Texas can testify, if DPS's interpretation is correct.
I guess DPS is getting their interpretation under the "or other expert examination or test performed on physical evidence" portion of the definition of "forensic analysis" in Art. 38.35. Did this go through DPS legal?
Am I missing something? I just think it's ridiculous that something that can still be done by jurors under 901(b)(3), can now only be done through expert testimony by about 3 people in the world. Maybe we should require only ASCLAD accredited jurors from here on out on cases with document examinations.
I think DPS should exempt handwriting analysis from the requirements of 38.35 under Govt. Code sec. 411.0205(c), as permitted under 38.35(a)(4)(D).
I had this issue pop up in a fraud case where defendant used fake ID to fill out credit app and purchase a motorcycle. The defense found some flake out of Dallas to say that it was not defendant who filled out the paperwork, even though there were two eye witnesses that ID'd him. I argued he was not accredited, but the judge let him testify anyway. I took it out on him during cross. He even told me during cross-examination that he could tell what type of personality I had simply by examining my writing as well as the status of my personal relationships (love life). During the break at trial I googled him and found him on a party favors web site between Tina the contortionist and garbonzo the party clown. I argued in closing that Tina would have been more qualified than he. Jury convicted and maxed him. Not sure we need the strict qualifications from DPS as long as our judges perform their gate-keeping functions.
Just because there are only 3 labs on the website now does not mean that there are not other qualified labs out there. DPS will accredit labs that are accredited by appropriate bodies. So, if you have an ASCLAD-LAB accredited lab you want to use for your comparison, they can apply to DPS and accreditation is a matter of course. I'm going to use this to knock out a flake who has filed a report in one of my writs.
The Lizard Man is innocent!
OK, I'll bite. Who (or what) is The Lizard Man?
Check out this thread:
The Lizard Man is innocent!
Contact Dale Stobaugh at DPS Lab in Austin for assistance with handwriting analysis.
Dale Stobaugh, HQ Section Manager
Questioned Document Section
DPS Crime Lab - Austin
You must submit a DPS Lab Submission Form along with known writing samples and your questioned document(s). DPS will prepare an exemplar for the suspect to complete under the supervision of your investigators and analyze it upon completion.
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