37 Golden Gate U. L. Rev. 39 (2006-2007)
The Prevalence and Potential Causes of Wrongful Conviction by Fingerprint Evidence

handle is hein.journals/ggulr37 and id is 48 raw text is: THE PREVALENCE AND
POTENTIAL CAUSES OF
WRONGFUL CONVICTION BY
FINGERPRINT EVIDENCE
SIMON A. COLE*
INTRODUCTION
This paper discusses a problem that might at first glance
appear to be either non-existent or unimportant: wrongful con-
viction by fingerprinting. Latent print individualization, more
commonly known as fingerprint identification, has long en-
joyed a reputation as one of the most powerful and trustworthy
forms of evidence available to the criminal law. For most of the
past century, in which latent print evidence was used in crimi-
nal justice systems of the United States and the rest of the
world, it was widely assumed that wrongful convictions by fin-
gerprint were either impossible or so rare that the problem
* Assistant Professor of Criminology, Law & Society, University of California,
Irvine; Ph.D. (science & technology studies), Cornell University; A.B., Princeton
University. I am grateful to Natasha Minsker, Stephanie Faucher, the ACLU of
Northern California, and Death Penalty Focus for organizing the Faces of Wrongful
Conviction conference and to the editors of the Golden Gate University Law Review for
their dedicated work on this article. I am also grateful to Craig Cooley, Michael Saks,
Jonathan Koehler, John Vokey, and Mark Acree for discussing some of the issues
raised in this paper. I thank attorneys Allan Sincox and Karsten Boone for facilitating
the use of materials for this article. As always, this paper benefited from discussions
with William C. Thompson. This project was funded in part by the National Science
Foundation (Award #SES-0347305). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or rec-
ommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessar-
ily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or of any of the individuals
cited above.

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