Forensic Document Examiner – Certified.

General Blog

Writing Specimen Considerations

August 25, 2014 in General Blog by James A. Green  |  No Comments
During the collection process of signature specimens to submit with the questioned signature(s), maximize the comparison process by the following: Collect ‘like’ documents. For example, if a signature was written on a legal document it is preferable to submit signature samples from other legal documents rather than from greeting cards, credit card receipts, etc. Similarly, if a questioned signature is on a check, the best comparison samples would be other checks known to be signed by the account holder. Known signature exemplars should be provided to the forensic document examiner dated as close as possible to the document in question. Comparing a signature on a Will dated in 1995 with a document signed several years before or after, would serve little purpose. An ample quantity, and quality images, of the known signatures submitted provide a better foundation for the examiner to establish the writer’s ‘range of variation’, resulting in a credible, objective opinion.

Ink Dating

April 14, 2011 in General Blog by James A. Green  |  Comments Off on Ink Dating
A common request made to forensic document examiners is to ‘date’ a signature or handwritten entries in a medical file, diary, etc.  The dating process is a specialized area requiring the expertise and laboratory instruments of an ink chemist.  Ink samples must be taken from the page and the components analyzed to determine the manufacture and date of the inks’ introduction to the market.  Because of the physical removal of the ink from the paper (by micro-punches), it is considered a destructive process.  However, ink chemists are careful to take the necessary samples and leave an ample amount of ink for a subsequent examination by an opposing chemist. One process used to determine if a ‘self serving’ entry was added to a document, is an analysis of the evaporation rate of ink.  Ink recently placed on paper will have a higher evaporation rate than ink placed on the same page several months or years prior. The majority of document examiners do not have the sophisticated laboratory equipment to date ink but will be able to provide the name of a reputable ink chemist.

Instrumentation

May 7, 2010 in Advances in Instruments, General Blog by James A. Green  |  Comments Off on Instrumentation
A properly equipped laboratory will have a a variety of instruments to use during examinations. One that is particularly useful, is the Video Spectral Comparator (VSC), that allows an examiner to compare inks. The VSC relies mainly upon the use of the infrared light spectrum, but has several other useful features. Although inks may visually appear the same to the human eye, differences are often vividly seen when the inks are subjected to the near infrared portion of light waves. The VSC is commonly used to examine alleged alterations of dollar amounts, ledger entries, medical records, etc. It may also be very useful resolving obliteration problems; the over-writing of text or numerals.

Signature Analysis on Wills

October 21, 2009 in General Blog by James A. Green  |  Comments Off on Signature Analysis on Wills

A high percentage of cases submitted to a signature expert is related to contested wills or other estate related documents. Although the signature is the usual focus of the examination, other aspects of the documents may be in question. For example, a client may ask to have the questioned document processed for indented writing, to determine if a signature was written with a writing instrument or was a machine copy, conduct paper comparisons within the will, and so forth.

Signature experts prefer to have the original will (or any other questioned document), to use during an examination.  Original documents may be difficult, if not impossible, to acquire for several reasons. They may be secured in a court file, in possession of the opposing party, destroyed, or unavailable for some other reason.  In many cases, the client will ask the signature expert to conduct an analysis “on site”, if necessary, at a location where the document is held. If the original is not submitted for examination, a qualified opinion will likely result because a “cut and paste” fabrication usually cannot be eliminated.

If the original is not available, a clear copy should be submitted in addition to several known signature specimens of the decedent. The known samples should be dated in close proximity to the time of the signature in question.  A signature expert does not have a specific number of known signature specimens required. Customarily, 15 specimens provide a good representation of the writer’s range of variation. In other cases, fewer signature samples may be adequate to resolve a signature analysis. Potential sources for specimens include checks, insurance documents, motor vehicle records, mortgage or loan applications, employee records and tax returns.

As a signature expert, I will help guide you through the process to make it as successful as possible.