Document Type

Article

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date

Fall 2018

Journal or Book Title

Daedalus

Volume

147

Issue

4

First Page

119

Last Page

134

DOI

10.1162/daed_a_00524

Abstract

Everyone knows that fingerprint evidence can be extremely incriminating. What is less clear is whether the way that a fingerprint examiner describes that evidence influences the weight lay jurors assign to it. This essay describes an experiment testing how lay people respond to different presentations of fingerprint evidence in a hypothetical criminal case. We find that people attach more weight to the evidence when the fingerprint examiner indicates that he believes or knows that the defendant is the source of the print. When the examiner offers a weaker, but more scientifically justifiable, conclusion, the evidence is given less weight. However, people do not value the evidence any more or less when the examiner uses very strong language to indicate that the defendant is the source of the print versus weaker source identification language. We also find that cross-examination designed to highlight weaknesses in the fingerprint evidence has no impact regardless of which type of conclusion the examiner offers. We conclude by considering implications for ongoing reform efforts.

Comments

This article is published as Kadane, Joseph B., and Jonathan J. Koehler. "Certainty & Uncertainty in Reporting Fingerprint Evidence." Daedalus 147, no. 4 (2018): 119-134.

Copyright Owner

The Authors

Language

en

File Format

application/pdf

Share

COinS