Sunday, December 22, 2013

United States v. Saelee case brief

United States v. Saelee case brief summary
162 F. Supp. 2d 1097 (D. Alaska 2001)

Defendant was indicted for drug violations. Defendant moved in limine to exclude testimony of hand printing comparison evidence at trial.

The court held a Daubert hearing to determine admissibility of the testimony.

The issue before the court was whether a forensic document analyst's testimony about the similarities and differences between known documents and questioned documents was admissible under either Fed. R. Evid. 701 or 702.


  • The court found that the testimony was not admissible under Rule 701 because the analyst was not a lay person proposing to offer testimony based on sensory perception. 
  • The court also found that the testimony was not admissible under Rule 702. 
  • There was an overall lack of testing of the theories and techniques used in handwriting comparison. 
  • There also was little empirical testing done on the basic theories upon which the handwriting comparison field was based. 
  • There was never any empirical research done on the theory of probability on which handwriting analysis is based. 
  • Further, there was little known about the error rates of forensic document examiners, and the little testing that had been done raised serious questions about the reliability of methods currently in use. 
  • The court also noted that the field of handwriting comparison suffered from a lack of controlling standards.

The motion was granted.

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