Fingerprints Expert Witness Testimony Allowed

The defendant is charged with robbing two banks.  The government hired a fingerprints expert witness to assist in their case.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this testimony.  The court denied the motion to exclude.

Facts: This case (United States of America v. Myshawn Bonds – United States District Court – Northern District of Illinois – October 10th, 2017) involves two alleged bank robberies.  The Defendant (Bonds) has been charged with robbing two banks totaling under $7,000.  Before the case goes to trial, Bonds has filed a motion to exclude the government’s fingerprints expert witness, Kira Glass.  Bonds argues that the method of fingerprint analysis used by Glass is not foundationally reliable.

Discussion:  Glass will testify about fingerprint analysis in general, latent fingerprints and the ACE-V method (analysis, comparison, evaluation, and verification).  Using the ACE-V method, Glass examined demand notes from both robberies.  She will testify that latent prints found in both banks match the print standard for Bonds.

Bonds alleges that the ACE-V method is not a proven valid scientific method and should thus be excluded.  He goes on to state that ACE-V is not reproducible and is not a consistent means of ascertaining whether two prints come from the same source.  In addition, he states that ACE-V’s false positive rate it too high to justify using it in a criminal trial.  Last, he also raises concerns that fingerprint analysis is too subjective.  The court cited other cases that found fingerprint is admissible even though the process is judgmental rather than scientific.

The court ruled against Bonds stating that reports have found latent fingerprint analysis a valid subjective methodology and any arguments related to this issue goes to the weight of the evidence and not its admissibility.

Bond also argues that Glass’s testimony should be excluded because the government cannot demonstrate that the ACE-V was reliably applied in this case.  The court disagreed, stating that it is satisfied that the government has established that Glass has reliably applied the method.  The court again stated that any arguments on this issue is best done during cross examination.

Last, Bonds has asked the court that, if Glass is allowed to provide expert testimony, she should be prevented from testifying to a match between the latent print and the suspect print and that Glass should be required to acknowledge that the level of certainty of a match is limited by a conservative false positive rate.  The court again ruled that this issue can be taken up on cross examination.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Kira Glass is denied.