Friday, August 01, 2003

The Impending Obsolescence of Fingerprint Identification

UPI reports that a team of Canadian scientists has invented a method to extract samples of DNA from fingerprints, even if the prints are old and smudged. They also have a method for analyzing the samples inexpensively and quickly (i.e., in as little as fifteen minutes).

Suppose this technology pans out. Then whenever the police have a fingerprint, they will have within their possession the data, and the means, to attempt identification by either of two methods: (a) fingerprint matching; or (b) DNA analysis. Won't the availability of the latter method doom the former?
Fed. R. Evid. 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.