In a recent article published in STEP’s Trust Quarterly Review, Audrey Giles profiles technological advances in the electronic recognition of handwriting. For example, The Center of Excellence for Document Analysis and Recognition (CEDAR) at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York has developed electronic processes for the assessment of handwriting. While such systems are funded by governments primarily concerned about white collar crime, forensic document examination is of great assistance to the estate litigator especially when trying to prove a fraud.
The difficulty is that, as Giles notes, while handwriting analysis can entail the comparison of hundreds of characteristics such as spacing between characters and the slope of letters, a signature is a very small sample which provides limited points of comparison for the document examiner. To further compound the challenge to the document examiner, all signatures demonstrate some degree of natural variation and different people will exhibit different degrees of variation in their signature. It is for this reason that the forensic document examiner will want as many samples of a true signature as possible before rendering an expert opinion.
The objective of the forensic document examiner is to provide opinion evidence for the consideration of the trier of fact as to whether a signature (on a Will for example) is that of the testator or a forgery. One tool in the arsenal of the examiner is the Video Spectral Comparator which can reveal pencil guide lines or impressions that may have been used by the forger in an attempt to duplicate the testator’s signature. Such attempts at forgery are remarkably crude when considered in the context of advances in scanners and software which present new challenges to those charged with trying to detect a fraud.
David Morgan Smith – Click here for more information on David Smith.
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