There is a first time for everything, including hiring experts. Attorneys are no different from the general public regarding their knowledge of who to hire and what to expect.
Here are a few key elements to consider on your first venture into the handwriting genre:
Understanding a Handwriting Expert
According to the forensic community, a handwriting expert is trained and vetted to authenticate, identify, or otherwise compare handwriting, hand printing, and signatures and testify to their findings. A forensic document examiner (FDE) spends a great deal of training time learning to do that as part of the curriculum, which includes numerous other aspects of documents as well.
Do not confuse a forensic document examiner with a graphologist. An FDE does not read a person’s personalities in their handwriting.
Getting a Professional Background Check for Your Handwriting Expert
Judges often accept testimonies from individuals who tout their expertise, yet they may not be adequately trained. Most do not understand the underlying structure of our profession. Even if the “expert” has testified before, you may find yourself in an awkward position in court with an untrained witness.
First and foremost, your expert should be recognized by the prevailing profession as qualified. The fact remains that many people simply do not have the proper foundation and scientific rationale that thorough training instills to provide an opinion of substance. When challenged, these folks often do not effectively support their opinions using the proper criteria, further accentuating their unsuitability for sworn testimony as an expert.
Choosing a Trustworthy Handwriting Expert
To help you feel confident in your decision, confirm that your FDE is a member of one or more internationally recognized forensic organizations. These organizations will vet their membership and only admit those they understand to have the proper background and credentials. For reference, most qualified experts belong to AAFS.org-the American Academy for Forensic Sciences. This organization encompasses most of the forensic fields, and each section has a specific vetting procedure.
Another organization in North America is ASQDE.org – the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners. Membership in ASQDE is considered a rite of passage to most legitimate FDE’s. There are a lot of acronyms out there, and many other organizations – both recognized and otherwise. If you focus on these two, you probably can’t go wrong.
Find the Right Expert Document Examiner for You
If you need assistance authenticating handwriting, contact Forensic QDE Lab today! Linda Mitchell is a Certified Document Examiner and is a dependable resource for you.
Do you want to learn more helpful tips for hiring an expert for the first time? Check out our other blog post for more information!