How do I select and engage a document/fingerprint examiner?

While there is no difficulty in finding trained and non-trained people in these fields on the internet and in legal journals, lawyers and individuals should thoroughly research the background of any expert they are considering engaging.  Be sure that you are engaging a person who has undergone a structured training program under the guidance of qualified and experienced document examiners in a dedicated and recognised document examination laboratory and that the person has the necessary experience and equipment to undertake the required examination and has a quality assurance procedure.

Unfortunately the courts are sometimes prepared to allow evidence to be given on matters pertaining to document examination and handwriting issues in particular by anyone who can demonstrate that they have what the courts perceive to be a better knowledge of the subject than the lay person.  This precedent comes from a time when few people were literate.

The sometimes gross incompetence of people who have not received proper training in the field can result in the courts being seriously misled on an issue, and usually adds significantly to the duration and cost of the hearing.  These “experts” can also bring the profession of questioned document examination into disrepute as their incompetence is immortalised in cases involving them and later referred to as being indicative of the lack of efficacy of document examination in assisting the courts.

The Australasian Society of Forensic Document Examiners Inc. (http://www.asfdeinc.org/; not to be confused with any groups of a similar name which are unrelated entities to which our examiners do not belong) is a professional organisation for forensic document examiners, having members drawn from both government and private practice throughout Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia and can be contacted for information as to which members of the Society are available to undertake consultancy, for general enquiries or in case of difficulties with forensic document examination results.