Exact Science?

Much ado is made over the alleged imprecision and/or inaccuracy inherent in DNA
detective work. However, it would seem trusty ol’ fingerprinting isn’t so fool-proof
as most believe. Perhaps “We always get our man” should be changed to
“We usually get a man”.

Printing Problems
The inexact science of fingerprint analysis.
By David Feige
Posted Thursday, May 27, 2004, at 2:35 PM PT

” The release and exoneration this month of Brandon Mayfield, the Portland, Ore.,
lawyer arrested in connection with the Spanish train bombings, raises important
questions about the nature of scientific evidence. Mayfield, a 37-year-old lawyer,
ex military officer, and convert to Islam, was jailed for two weeks after the FBI
discovered his fingerprint on a bag of detonators recovered after the deadly Madrid
bombing that killed 191 people in March. Mayfield, it was also quickly disclosed,
represented a defendant in a child custody case who was linked to terrorism. After
matching the print and reviewing the evidence, special agent Richard Werder swore
out an affidavit and used it to get a material-witness warrant. Mayfield was quickly
arrested and sent to jail. More quick and aggressive police work in a terrorism
case, keeping the homeland secure.”

” Except for the part about how the fingerprint wasn’t Mayfield’s at all.”