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Forensic Document Examiners' Skill in Distinguishing Between Natural and Disguised Handwriting Behaviors

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 55 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2010 Pages: 1291-1295
Carolyne Bird, B.Sc.; Bryan Found, Ph.D.; Doug Rogers, Ph.D.
Date Published
September 2010
5 pages
This paper reports on the skill of forensic document examiners (FDEs) for determining the writing process of 140 pairs of natural and disguised writings and compares their results with those of a control group of laypeople.
Disguised handwriting is problematic for forensic document examiners (FDEs) and attracts higher misleading and inconclusive rates on authorship opinions than does genuine writing (Found B, Rogers D, International Graphonomics Society, 2005). There are currently no published empirical data on FDEs' expertise in distinguishing between natural and disguised writing behavior. The current study found a significant difference between the examiner and lay group. FDEs' expertise is characterized by their conservatism, where FDEs express a higher proportion of inconclusive opinions (23.1 percent for FDEs compared to 8.4 percent for the control group). This leads to the FDEs expressing a smaller percentage of misleading responses when calling writings as either naturally written or disguised (4.3 percent for FDEs compared with 12.2 percent for the control group). (Published Abstract)