Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bulletin: The Oregonian breaks the story of the quiet closure of a handwriting lab after an investigation of its examiners revealed bias and sloppiness; (The truth will out! HL);

STORY: "Oregon State Police close handwriting lab after investigation of bias, sloppiness," by reporter Brian Denson, published by The Oregonian on February 14, 2014.

PHOTO CAPTION:  "Handwriting examiners in the Portland Metro Forensic Laboratory, in Clackamas County, used video spectral comparators for the painstaking process of matching suspects' known writing samples to those believed to have been used in the commission of crimes. The unit is now shut down."

GIST: "Oregon State Police officials have quietly shut down their handwriting analysis unit, investigated for lapses in quality control, and laid off their last two examiners at a time when fewer crime cases require the work. The department now farms out handwriting analyses to the Washington State Patrol's forensics laboratory and, in some cases, FBI examiners, according to Lt. Gregg Hastings, an OSP spokesman. Hastings confirmed that the Questioned Documents Unit, the formal name of the handwriting examination group, formally closed on Dec. 7, 2012, nine months after OSP officials suspended the unit's examinations. Oregon State Police had faced the possibility that the findings of its two full-time examiners had caused problems with criminal prosecutions. This forced them to confront a whodunit under the roof of their own forensics lab. The Oregonian first reported on the controversy in late 2012, after state police discovered that one of its two handwriting examiners committed a serious error in a suspected murder-for-hire case. Internal reviews of work in the handwriting examination unit, obtained by the newspaper through open-records requests, detailed allegations of bias, sloppy work, and dishonesty.........State police officials looking into miscues in the handwriting unit in 2012 identified 45 cases that required outside reviews by qualified handwriting examiners. They notified prosecutors handling the cases. Hastings said this week that it appeared no criminal cases were significantly altered or harmed by the findings. Killing the Questioned Documents Unit prompted the layoffs of its last two full-time analysts: Ron Emmons and Christina Kelley. The two had been on paid administrative leave in the $66,000-a-year jobs until state police formally closed their unit."

The entire story can be found at:


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