The inaugural Forensic Document Examiners Live INternational Knowledge Exchange on Documents (i.e., FDE Linked) event occurred on March 31-April 1, 2023. It was a virtual event for qualified Forensic Document Examiners and available free of charge. The organizing committee consisted of: Nikolaos (Niko) Kalantzis (from the Chartoularios Institute, https://www.chartoularios.gr/en/), Carolyne Bird (Australasian Society of Forensic Document Examiners, Inc., https://asfdeinc.org), and Samiah Ibrahim (American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, https://www.asqde.org).
The event ran through a full 24-hour period. There were three live panel discussions, as well as five pre-recorded scientific session blocks. The program was designed to accommodate attendees regardless of their location around the world. The working language of this conference was English.
This was, by far, the largest event for Forensic Document Examiners ever held. There were just under 500 registered attendees in attendance. It was a rather remarkable gathering, albeit only virtual in nature, and one that was long overdue.
There were a lot of interesting presentations which, if I can find the time, I will outline here and/or review. For the time being, here is some information about the three live panel discussions (information quoted/paraphrased from the website):
Round Table #1 FDE: Challenges for the future
Speakers: Tobin Tanaka, Stylianos Voudouris, Dana Delger, Chi Keung LI, Carolyn Pitoy, Jemmy Bouzin, Iskandar Azaman, and John McGinn
Description: This session looks at the future of FDE asking what could look like, in the context of shrinking government laboratories and capacity in FDE? The hope is to generate conversation about questions like:
– how can fair and equitable access to FDE services can best be achieved?
– who should or will train the next generation of FDEs?
– what will be better: public or private FDE services, or perhaps a mix of both?
Round Table #2 Bias in FDE: Understanding and mitigating
Speakers: Niki Osborne, Nicole Crown, Reinoud Stoel, Rachel Searston, and Jannie Bester
Description: This session discuss various aspects of bias in forensic document examination, and how it may impact our output. The hope is to generate conversation about how the judiciary across global jurisdictions sees bias with respect to FDE. Discussion will cover existing and proposed mitigation strategies employed by laboratories, and some of the resultant challenges faced by both private and public sector laboratories.
Round Table #3 FDE training: Standards, scope, and specialization
Speakers: Mara Merlino, Kelsey Osborn, Narumi Lima, Bayan Ramadan, Rolf Fauser, Marcos Gianetto, and Jonathan Jackson-Morris
Description: This session looks into various training requirements in the field of forensic document examination, with a focus on scope and length of training, as well as the idea of discipline sub-specialization. The conversation will include some discussion of standards that already exist, including those currently being updated. It will also try to identified gaps in such standards or existing training guidelines. The hope is to generate conversation about various, global jurisdictional requirements, and how these meet forensic best practices.
The topics covered in the presentations were very diverse. Two of the scientific sessions were themed: Scientific Session III – Reporting, and Scientific Session V – Critical Issues in Forensic Document Examination.
I contributed to the former with a presentation entitled, “A discussion of reporting – the most important aspect of our work”. In this talk I presented my personal view on certain aspects of reporting—both in written form, and as verbal testimony. And I did this drawing on report of the Expert Working Group for Human Factors in Handwriting Examination (aka, the HFHE). In particular, attention was paid to Chapter 3: Reporting and Testimony which I helped to draft.[Updated post-event 2023.09.12]