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.
Years ago, in 2013 to be precise, I was invited to speak at the ICA conference held in Montréal, Québec. The conference had a special session on “distinguishing between science and pseudoscience in forensic acoustics”. Now, I am definitely not an expert in forensic acoustics. In fact, I know almost nothing about the field other than what I’ve read from time to time. So I wasn’t there to tell the audience anything about forensic acoustics, per se.
Many years ago, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Crime Detection Laboratories sponsored a series of Seminars relating to forensic science and two of those events, RCMP Seminars 4 and 5, focused on forensic document examination; a.k.a., questioned document examination.
The first seminar, #4, was entitled “The Examination of Questioned Documents” and it was held May 10-11, 1956 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada at R.C.M.P. Headquarters. In 1958, again in Ottawa and at the same location, seminar #5 was held Oct 27 through Nov 1. The second seminar was entitled “Questioned Documents in Crime Detection”. Both seminars were attended by several R.C.M.P. examiners and many invited guests from various laboratories around the world as well as several well-known private examiners. The event produced several interesting papers and each of the resulting books of proceedings included a photograph of attendees together with their names and affiliations. Each of the proceedings was published by the Federal Queen’s Printer, Ottawa, Canada.
A number of document examiners have asked about the photograph and attendees because often the photograph has been distributed without the accompanying attendee information.
The 79th Annual General Meeting of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE, Inc) was held August 10th to 12th, 2021. It was again conducted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme for this year’s meeting was “ASQDE_AGM 2.0 ver. 2021 – The Future is Now”.
One of the strangest things I have heard raised in argument against the logical approach is that use of the approach means the expert’s testimony will end up impinging upon the authority of the Court. I have heard this a few times recently. I find this particularly troubling because it has come from lawyers. Unfortunately, this has always happened in circumstances where I could not actually discuss the matter with them.
As an objection to the logical approach, this is the most unexpected thing I have ever heard, without a doubt. In reality, proper application of the logical approach is one of the few ways to ensure that this issue will not happen.
To clarify, it is important to first understand the concept of “usurping the role of the Court” which means, in essence, to improperly influence the court’s procedures and decision-making, often by speaking inappropriately to or about the ultimate issue. Or, in other words, to impinge on the Court’s authority to make decisions about the ultimate issue (or ‘what happened’). To be sure, there is a legitimate concern that this could be a problem, particularly when the court is listening to an expert. As a result, the concept has been discussed literally for years and it is not a new concern.
In fact, it can be found in various codes and directives regarding expert evidence. Indeed, Justice Sopinka noted this precise issue in the 1994 R. v. Mohan ruling when he stated, in part, “There is also a concern inherent in the application of this criterion that experts not be permitted to usurp the functions of the trier of fact.”
The 73rd Annual General Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences was held February 15th to 19th, 2021. It was an online meeting and had the theme of “One Academy Pursuing Justice through Truth and Evidence”.
The 78th Annual General Meeting of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE, Inc) was held August 10th through 14th, 2020. It was a new type of meeting necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting was originally planned to be held in Frankenmuth, Michigan but a (very wise) decision was made to hold an entirely virtual meeting instead. The theme for this year was “Future-Proofing Questioned Documents”.