FORENSIC DOCUMENT EXAMINATION
Also referred to as questioned document examination, this branch of forensic science includes the identification of handwriting paper, ink, typewriting, and writing instruments. Ninety percent of a document examiner's work has to do with the comparison of known handwriting samples with the questioned writing - a bank robbery note, a ransom document, the address on a mail bomb, a threatening letter, and signatures in wills, insurance policies and contracts that might have been forged. Examiners utilize chemistry, specialized photography, and microscopy in their work. A few specialize in the restoration of charred and burned documents. As forensic experts, they are often called to court as expert witnesses in civil and criminal cases. There are no schools for this kind of work, all education and training comes on-the-job in federal, state, county or big city crime laboratories.
Jim Fisher has extensively researched the history of forensic science including the area of document examination.
The Lindbergh Case: A Look Back to the Future
This is the transcript of a speech Jim wrote and delivered to the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners in August 2003, discussing the handwriting evidence in the Lindbergh Case. For more information on the handwriting evidence and its role in the trial of this famous case please see the Handwriting Evidence page of the Lindbergh Case section of the web site.
The Botkin Case
The Botkin case, coming at the dawn of the Twentieth Century, caught the attention of the American public because a woman from San Francisco used the mail to poison a victim in Delaware. The case also furthered the advance of questioned documents, an evolving forensic science. Beyond the annals of forensic document examination, the Botkin case has slipped into obscurity.
The Molineux Case
The Molineux case (1899-l904), was the century's first "crime of the century" because it involved interesting characters, a poisoning death, and the emerging science of questioned document examination. Though forgotten today, it captured the imagination of a nation when it broke upon the scene.