Module Ten: Text Questions
1. What is a questioned document? Describe at least one example of something that might be a questioned document. A questioned document is a document in which the script or type used in its composition causes suspicion. 2. What is an exemplar? What are the best types of exemplars? Exemplars are authorized examples of how a text should look as a reference. The best types of exemplars are the ones of similar content and/or in the same format. 3. What are natural variations? Describe how these happen. Natural variations are subtle changes in handwriting that occur normally. This usually happen with time.
4. How are stamped signatures different from written signatures? Stamped signatures are literal stamps that leave a print of a signature instead of a hand signing. 5. What are some of the typescript machines that document examiners have to investigate? Choose one of these machines and describe what document examiners look for when comparing the machine to a questioned document. Some of the typescript machines that document examiners have to investigate are typewriters, photocopiers, and fax machines. With photocopiers, for example, investigators closely look for discrepancies between copies, as there are little flaws common in every copy.
Critical Thinking Questions
1. Why are questioned documents important in forensic science? What is one example of a situation where a questioned document might be an important part of a criminal case? Questioned documents are important in forensic science because the verification of a document could sway a course one way or another. For example, a forged suicide note could suggest foul play. 2. What are some of the ways that a document examiner might try to match a questioned document to a specific typewriter? What aspects might they look at? A document examiner might try to match a questioned document to a specific typewriter by noting possible variations over time that could account for any discrepancies. 3. Imagine that you have been asked to determine whether a signature on a check is authentic or a forgery. What steps would you take in doing this? What aspects would you examine? If I were to determine whether a signature is genuine of a forgery I would closely examine the strokes and curves of the handwriting.
4. Imagine that you have been asked to determine whether a will written fifty years ago is authentic or a modern-day forgery. How would you go about doing this? What aspects would you examine to help you make your determination? To determine whether the will was a forgery or an authentic document I would collect exemplars to compare with the original document. I would closely compare the two and look for suspicious similarities or differences.
5. A law enforcement agent is in charge of getting a writing sample from an uncooperative suspect. The agent puts the suspect in a comfortable room and has the person choose from a bunch of pencils and ink pens. The agent takes the questioned document and dictates the information to the suspect, having the suspect write down what she says as she reads from the questioned document. After several paragraphs, the agent stops and has the suspect rewrite the material two more times. What did the agent do wrong in this situation? What did the agent do right? The agent should not have given the suspect the free range of writing materials but was correct in the material that they had the suspect write down.