I cannot say how important professional ethics are in the Criminal Justice profession. In everything we do as Board Certified Criminal Defense Investigators, we must remain neutral, and free from bias when conducting research and investigation in the field, especially in areas like investigation were confirmation bias happens regularly. Defense Investigators, and Criminal Investigators especially, must be aware of the bias that can occur when an investigator comes into a case with preconceived notions and opinions. This causes the investigator or researcher to search for evidence to support the theory instead of a search for the truth. In criminal Defense Cases I have worked it was additional information that we may have uncovered through the investigative case review and analysis that brought this type of investigative police work to light.
Fingerprints: The First ID
Fingerprints are the oldest and most accurate method of identifying individuals. No two people (not even identical twins) have the same fingerprints, and it is extremely easy for even the most accomplished criminals to leave incriminating fingerprints at the scene of a crime
Each fingerprint has a unique set of ridges and points that can be seen and identified by trained experts. If two fingerprints are compared and one has a point not seen on the other, those fingerprints are considered different. If there are only matching points and no differences, the fingerprints can be deemed identical. (There is no set number of points required, but the more points, the stronger the identification. Fingerprints can be visible or latent; latent fingerprints can often be seen with special ultraviolet lights, although on some surfaces a simple flashlight will identify the print. Experts use fingerprint powder or chemicals to set a print; they then “lift” the print using special adhesives.
The pioneer in fingerprint identification was Sir Francis Galton, an anthropologist by training, who was the first to show scientifically how fingerprints could be used to identify individuals. Beginning in the 1880s, Galton (a cousin of Charles Darwin) studied fingerprints to seek out hereditary traits. He determined through his studies not only that no two fingerprints are exactly alike, but also that fingerprints remain constant throughout an individual’s lifetime. Galton published a book on his findings in 1892 in which he listed the three most common fingerprint types: loop, whorl, and arch. These classifications are still used today
Tools are often used by criminals to force entry to premises and can leave behind evidence for the forensic scientist to find.
Two tools of the same kind and made by the same manufacturer may look the same, but through use each tool can acquire differences. It is these differences that make them unique.
Forensic Scientists are able to help the courts convict criminals by matching the marks on tools to those found at crime scenes.
The examination of tool marks, as with other physical evidence, is based on two characteristics – class characteristics and individual characteristics.
Class characteristics are those characteristics that are common to a group of objects. For example, a hammer has a distinctive shape and typical size.
Individual characteristics are those characteristics which are unique to a given object. They are generally as a result of wear and tear or may be caused by isolated incidents during manufacture. For example, you buy a new pair of shoes and as you wear the shoes, over time you will get scratches and gouges on the soles. These marks are unique to your shoes.
Tool Mark Impressions
Caused by the interaction of two objects, tool mark impressions are distinguished in a variety of ways:
Static marks are made when the tool is pressed into a softer material and leaves an impression. A good example is a crow bar being used to force open a window and a subsequent impression is left in the softer surface of the wood. The Forensic Scientist will examine the marks and may be able to identify what type and size of tool caused the damage.
Dynamic marks are made when a tool slides or scratches across a surface. Think of a key being dragged along the side of a car; such an instrument leaves behind a pattern of lines or striations in the metal of the car. The pattern of striations may be enough for the examiner to identify a match with the tool belonging to a suspect.
Cutting marks are a result of pressure being applied at both sides of an object and are often associated with scissors, wire cutters or shears. When used these tools can leave behind marks and striations along the cut edges of the material.
Multi-stroke marks are caused by repetitive action, such as a saw moving back and forth.
The Scene Examiner will examine and photograph the tool marks in situ. If appropriate, the Scene Examiner will remove the object with the marks and take it to the lab for further analysis. If this is not possible they will make a cast of the marks, generally using a silicone rubber.
A tool may be recovered that is suspected to have caused the damage and this will also be taken to the lab for further analysis.
The Forensic Scientist will make test marks using the suspect implement. The test mark and the mark recovered from the crime scene will then be compared.
The Forensic Scientist will examine and compare the striation patterns using the comparison microscope. By comparing and matching the striations the scientist can prove whether the tool is responsible for the impression.
Tools can also have trace evidence, such as paint flakes adhering, or in the case of a human victim, blood or other body fluids. This evidence greatly assists in the investigation of a crime.
Investigators efforts when hired by attorney
Coito v. Superior Court (2012), 54 Cal.4th 480 [dictum discussed witness statements and suggested efforts of investigator must reflect attorney initiative or thoughts]
2,022 Ranch, LLC v. Superior Court (Chicago Title Ins. Co.) (2003), 113 Cal. App. 4th 1377 [“Chicago Title objected to questions to the adjuster Look concerning her interviews with third parties (the escrow company and the seller’s agent) as part of her investigation. These questions concerned her factual claims investigation and do not constitute attorney-client communications or attorney work product.”]People v. Collie (1981), 30 Cal.3d 43, at p. 59 [“Nobles also persuasively reasons that the privilege should extend not just to the attorney’s work product, but to the efforts of those who work with him to prepare the defense: “At its core, the work-product doctrine shelters the mental processes of the attorney, providing a privileged area within which he can analyze and prepare his client’s case. But the doctrine is an intensely practical one, grounded in the realities of litigation in our adversary system. One of those realities is that attorneys must often rely on the assistance of investigators and other agents in the compilation of materials in preparation for trial. It is therefore necessary that the doctrine protect material prepared by agents for the attorney as well as those prepared by the attorney himself.” (Id. at pp. 238-239 [45 L.Ed.2d at p. 154].) We conclude that the work-product doctrine applies to criminal cases and protects the work product of defense investigators.”]
Rodriquez v. McDonald Douglas (1978), 87 Cal.App.3d 626 at p.647-48
Southern Pacific Co. v. Superior Court (1969), 3 Cal.App.3d 195 at p.198 [ Protected per dictum not disapproved in Kadelbach ]
Mize v. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (1975), 46 Cal.App.3d 436 at p. [Court assumed investigators reports were work product and compared them to expert’s reports but found waiver because the investigator was to testify ]
Brown v. Superior Court (1963), 218 Cal. App.2d 430 at p. 437
Suezaki v. Superior Court (1962), 58 Cal.2d 166, 178 at p. 177 [films taken by investigator hired by attorney solely for trial prep and intended to be confidential are work product but not privileged as a matter of law; court discretion must be exercised with qualified work product ]
William A. Monroe is the Director of Investigations/Qualified Manager of W.A. Monroe & Associates Security Consulting and Investigations. Monroe was born in Connecticut, and after graduating high school began a career in the Security Police Career field with the United States Air Force. During his time with the Air Force, he served in several law enforcement and Security capacities including canine handler, trainer, kennel master, Security force supervisor, Patrol supervisor, Desk Sergeant, Federal executive and dignitary protection detail supervisor, Special Investigations Joint Drug Enforcement Team member, Anti-Terrorism response team leader, and Department of Defense vulnerability and risk assessment team leader. Bill is a diligent and highly skilled Security, Law Enforcement, and Investigations professional with a broad understanding of the criminal justice system. Bill is a consummate professional, with a proven track record investigating criminal, family law, and plaintiff negligence cases. His passion for the Constitution and the legal process, coupled with his strong desire to seek out the truth in every case are unparalleled.
Bill is a California Licensed Professional Investigator with over 10 years of professional investigative experience, ranging from insurance fraud investigations, felony three strike cases, to capital murder cases. Bill is an expert in criminal defense investigation and specializes in capital case mitigation, police procedure and use of force, K-9 search and seizure, and K-9 narcotics and explosives detection. He has superior investigative abilities coupled with comprehensive skills in forensic interviewing, forensic photography, crime scene examination, blood spatter detection, recognition, and analysis, and preparing and presenting accurate facts.
Nothing matters but the facts. Without them, the science of criminal investigation is nothing more than a guessing game.~Blake Edwards~