Report of Special Investigation
by Executive Board
(This report presents the findings of the Executive Board of the Southern California Association of Fingerprint Officers regarding the allegations made at the February 1994 meeting.)
A review was made of the prints in question and the transcripts of Mr. Elmer Lee Smith's testimony in the following four cases: United States of America vs. Manning CR--88--563--DT; California vs. Reyes A590802; California vs. Vargas A887216; and California vs. Fowler CR 56979. In all of the above cases latent print examiners testified to positive identifications, and in all four cases Mr. Smith testified that the prints were not that of the defendant.
One of the basic tenets of friction skin identification is that every area of friction skin is unique. In other words, every single identifiable print found at a crime scene could have only been made by one person. This fact has been well established through much scientific research.
When there is a differing of conclusions between two latent print examiners as to the source or origin of a latent print, one of the examiners must be in error. It is impossible for one latent print examiner to state that a print was made by one person and another examiner to establish that the print was made by someone else, without one of the examiners being wrong. This is an absolute!
Since it is physically impossible for more than one person to have the same fingerprints, opposing conclusions by latent print examiners are factually impossible and therefore unacceptable. The providing of a false conclusion by a latent print examiner in a court of law is a major problem, and if left unchecked, will discredit friction skin evidence within the criminal justice system.
When problems of this nature occur, particularly involving a member of this Association, it is our obligation as a professional organization to establish which conclusion is correct and address the problem.
The Association's review of the prints in question show all four identifications to be valid and correct. In light of this review it is clear that Mr. Smith has provided erroneous or false testimony on the stated occasions in both state and federal courts. When questioned on the witness stand during voir dire examination, he has used his status as a Past--President and member of this organization to provide credibility to his false testimony. Conduct of providing false or erroneous conclusions as testimony is unacceptable.
Mr. Smith's conduct directly violates Article 8 of our By--Laws and the purposes and objectives of this organization. The charges made against him have been found to be true. These findings of the investigation by the Executive Board were presented to the general membership at the March 5, 1994 meeting of this organization. It is the decision of the Executive Board that the membership of Mr. Elmer Lee Smith in the Southern California Association of Fingerprint Officers be revoked.
This report was originally published in �THE PRINT� 10(3), March 1994,
and has been obtained from the online library provided by the
Southern California Association of Fingerprint Officers