Alcohol can impact many of our motor skills. Some of us know
this from experience, others remember from the “drunk goggles,” or fatal
vision goggles, that we wore during Driver’s Ed. Alcohol, whether in small
or large quantities, makes it difficult to walk or drive a car; it also makes
it difficult to write.
Research has shown that alcohol can change the way we write, making it
sloppier and more difficult to read.
In one study, 73 participants were asked to provide handwriting samples before and after consuming alcohol. Researchers found that after consuming alcohol, participants’ handwriting changed considerably. Word lengths, letter height, spacing between words, number of angularities, number of tremors, and number of tapered ends all “significantly increased under the effect of alcohol.” There seemed to be an especially strong correlation between the amount of alcohol one consumed and the “alteration of handwriting parameters” including letter height, angularity, and tapered ends.
Perhaps the most important fact is that handwriting may change “at any level of alcohol.” In other words, any amount of alcohol consumed may change the way we write. While the handwriting of someone who has consumed five beers would be worse than someone who has consumed only one, there may nevertheless still be a change in how we write.
It’s a question that many ask themselves when trying to
build a strong defense in court: is handwriting analysis admissible? The short
answer is yes, it is considered admissible evidence. The longer answer,
however, is more complicated, and depends on who you bring in to testify, as
well as legal precedent.
Why have a handwriting expert?
Before we get into the question of admissibility, we must first
cover why you would have a handwriting expert appear in court to begin with.
Expert witnesses, whether it be for handwriting or other areas, can analyze
information and provide their opinion in order to better inform the court. If,
for example, there is a document that is a part of your case that depends on
the validity of a signature, a handwriting expert would be able to say how
likely it was that a particular person made that signature. This can bolster
(or weaken) claims of ownership made by one of the parties involved in the
Admissibility of handwriting analysis
The admissibility of a handwriting expert’s testimony starts with Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. This states that an expert witness may testify if they are proven to have specialized knowledge, sufficient facts/data, and reliable principles/methods. In addition to Rule 702, there is Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. This was a Supreme Court case that established the Daubert Standard which may be raised in order to exclude an expert witnesses testimony because they are unqualified. Simply put, Rule 702 and the Daubert Standard both require that the court finds an expert witness sufficiently qualified in order to testify. Only then is their analysis admissible in court.
In order for someone to officially run for office, they must
collect signatures from supporters within their district. However, what happens
when those signatures are not actually collected, but forged instead?
Towne had originally sought signatures by promising money in
return. While asking for signatures in return for money is not, on its own, a
crime, two individuals (one of which later recanted) later claimed that their
signatures were forged, kicking off a statewide grand jury investigation.
After the investigation, it was found that all of the
signatures on one particular page had been forged. It was also discovered that Towne,
who had claimed that he collected the signatures himself, had actually paid
someone else to do it, Amber Correll. Under law, the person collecting the
signatures must sign the petitions claiming that the information is true.
Towne, however, signed it, despite not having collected the signatures.
Instead, it was Amber Correll who had both collected and forged
the signatures, and who was instructed by Towne not to sign the petitions. Correll
told investigators that she agreed to collect signatures for Towne, receiving
$2 per signature, but that she did not tell him that she had forged the
In the end, Towne was charged with five counts including
perjury, false signatures/statements, and tampering with records. Amber Correll
was charged with 101 counts (all misdemeanors) including forgery, identity theft,
false signatures/statements, and tampering with records.
Fair and free elections are the hallmark of any democracy, which is why we must take extra steps to protect this process. Here at Drexler Document Laboratory, we bring decades of experience to any forensic document examination case, including suspected ballot fraud and forgery. We are also experts in analyzing and testifying in absentee voter fraud cases. Give us a call today at 844-373-9522 to learn more about our services.
Queen Elizabeth I was many things. Known for bringing stability to a country that had gone through years of turmoil under the reigns of her father (Henry VIII) and half-siblings (Edward VI and Mary, Queen of Scots), she was an adept ruler and a brilliant scholar. She was also an incredibly messy writer.
Indeed, Elizabeth’s famously messy handwriting has revealed her as the translator of an early English translation of Tacitus’ Annals.
The translation was found by John-Mark Philo, a literary
scholar at the University of East Anglia. While the translation itself was written
in the clean, legible handwriting of a professional scribe, it was the annotations
and corrections in the margins that caught Philo’s eye. The annotations were
done by an “extremely distinctive, disjointed hand” that matched the penmanship
of other documents authored by Elizabeth. The Virgin Queen had a habit of
making her “m’s” and “n’s” horizontal lines, and her “e’s” and “d’s” into
disjointed strokes. There were also a set of watermarks that tied the translation
to the royal house, namely those of a lion, a crossbow, and the initials “G.B.”
Why did the Queen have such famously messy handwriting? Much
of it had to do with the office that she held. Her penmanship deteriorated over
time, resulting from the ever-growing “demands of governance” that forced her
to write quickly and, consequently, sloppily. She was also allowed to have
messy handwriting. As Queen, “comprehension [was] somebody else’s problem,” whether
it be the recipient, or the professional scribe that would have to record and attach
a more legible copy to the original document.
Elizabeth’s messy handwriting may have been a headache for
contemporaries, but it turned out to be especially helpful for historians 500
years later. And indeed, distinctive handwriting such as this can help us find the
true authors of particular documents, whether those documents be 500 years old
or 5 months old.
Here at Drexler Document Laboratory, we’re proud to operate
full-service laboratory offering experienced forensic document and handwriting
analysis for both individuals and businesses involved in civil or criminal
investigations. To learn more, feel free to give us a call at our toll-free number
us online today!
An expert witness can make or break your legal case, which is why choosing the right one is so important. When it comes to handwriting, you’ll come across two types of people who claim they can help you: forensic document examiners and graphologists. While they both focus on handwriting, they vary drastically on expertise and credibility, and choosing the wrong one for your case could cost you.
Forensic document examiners
Forensic document examiners can look at a document and provide you with a wide range of professional feedback. They perform handwriting comparisons, document authentication and signature authentication using known and reliable techniques to prove or disprove authenticity. Additionally, FDEs can determine the approximate age of a document, reveal whether or not alterations have been made to a document, and even decipher documents that have been damaged or charred.
By definition, graphologists are not qualified to provide these services. Rather, the field of graphology – sometimes called “graphoanalysis”—relies exclusively on using handwriting to attempt to interpret the personality and character of a person. They cannot authenticate documents or offer up any advice on the authenticity of a document that would hold up in a court of law. And, in fact, there have been some legal cases in which the use of a graphologist has been disallowed. This includes a case involving an insurance company in 2006 in which lawyers used a graphologist instead of a document examiner to build their case. In the end, the judge ruled that the graphologist was unqualified to “testify in this case as an expert in the field of handwriting analysis and document examination.”
Why put yourself through the trouble of calling on a graphologist who cannot face the scrutiny of qualifying in a court of law when what you really need is a well-trained forensic document examiner to investigate and determine the true history of a disputed document? Drexler Document Lab can offer you the comprehensive document examination, verification and authentication services you are looking for and. Call us at 844-373-9522 today to learn more about our services.
In a democracy, fair and honest elections are of the utmost
importance. It’s why many states have laws protecting against voter fraud. Yet,
many argue that these laws do the opposite of their intended effect, and
instead restrict people’s right to vote rather than protect it.
In Michigan, Priorities USA, a progressive advocacy group, has filed a lawsuit claiming that the State’s signature-matching law is unconstitutional and disenfranchises voters.
The law requires election officials to reject any absentee ballot
whose signature does not match the one that election officials have on-file. While
on the surface this seems like a standard measure to prevent voter fraud, in
reality, the lawsuit argues, it is “arbitrary and standardless” and causes
people’s votes to be thrown out without real cause. This is because a signature
may not match for a whole host of innocent reasons, including age, illness,
injury, pen type, ink type, writing surface, etc.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the suit claims
that the law the does not require election officials to undergo any training in
“In fact,” the suit continues, “no one really knows how
Michigan election officials decide whether a signature or an absentee ballot or
ballot application is sufficiently similar to the previously designated
signature to withstand scrutiny.”
In addition to the questionable expertise of those examining
the signatures, the lawsuit also argues that there are few ways for voters to
challenge the decision made by the election officials. “State law provides no
mechanism by which voters whose ballots are wrongfully discarded for alleged
signature mismatches may challenge that determination or cure their rejected
ballots or absentee ballot applications.”
The defendant in the case, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson,
has made no official comment to the lawsuit at this time.
Art historians have long suspected that although Leonardo da Vinci primarily used his left hand, he was in fact ambidextrous, meaning that he could write, draw and paint with both hands.
Now, researchers at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery report that they have found evidence to prove this theory, based on historic handwriting analysis. The research team studied da Vinci’s earliest surviving work, a drawing of the Arno River completed in 1473 when the artist was just 21.
The drawing has two inscriptions: one on the front and one on the back. The inscription on the front is written in da Vinci’s signature “mirror writing” from right to left. Art historians have theorized that he wrote this way using his left hand to avoid smudging the ink.
However, the inscription on the back of the drawing is written in the more ordinary left-to-right style, and the researchers believe that da Vinci used his right hand to write it.
While the two forms of writing display some differences due to the use of different hands, they have numerous key features in common, which indicate that they were both written by Leonardo.
According to art historian Cecilia Frosinini, “Leonardo was born left-handed, but he was ‘reeducated’ at a very early age to use the right hand. From an observation of his handwriting, including the inscriptions on this drawing, it is clear that his writing as a right-hander was both cultivated and well-formed.”
At Drexler Document Laboratory, we’re proud to operate full-service laboratory offering experienced forensic document and handwriting analysis for both individuals and businesses involved in civil or criminal investigations. To learn more, feel free to give us a call at our toll-free number or contact us online today!
If you’ve been following my blog, you may remember that I was once tasked with attempting to identify the author of an anonymous letter that sparked a major scandal involving two high-profile American political figures during the 19th century. These historical investigations are always interesting, and they occasionally involve some very well-known individuals.
Several years ago, for example, I was approached by a client who asked me to confirm the authorship of two letters that had purportedly been signed by George Washington.
This investigation ultimately sought to answer two key questions: Were the signatures authentic, and was Washington the author of the letters as well? I began by studying the signatures and comparing them to known examples of George Washington’s signature.
Based on the overwhelming consistencies between the signatures in question and known George Washington signatures, I concluded that there is a strong probability that the letters were, in fact, signed by our nation’s first president. Whether or not the letters were actually authored by him, however, is a matter of debate.
Washington was not known for being a very skilled penman, and was even so embarrassed by his handwriting that he would sometimes spend hours practicing his penmanship and re-writing old documents that he was dissatisfied with. Based on this historical detail and my analysis of the handwriting in the two letters, George Washington could not be the author of the full text of these documents.
Instead, it’s possible that the letters were written by an aide and then signed by Washington after the fact. I then attempted to identify the author of the document text by comparing the text to other historic documents handwritten by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and a few known penmen employed by Hamilton. Comparisons revealed that all but one of Hamilton’s penmen could be eliminated, but he could not be identified. Unfortunately, to this date the true penmen remains a mystery.
Although forensic document examiners often work with pen and paper, we’re sometimes recruited to analyze markings and impressions on other objects as well. Such is the case with two metal trunks that a client brought to me several years ago. The client’s father received the trunks soon after the Korean War, with no explanation as to their purpose or history. Decades later, his son hoped my expertise in forensic analysis might help him get to the bottom of this mystery.
At first glance it was clear that these trunks were designed and built with a specific purpose in mind, but the exact nature of that purpose was unclear. There was even evidence that the trunks could be pressurized.
I began my investigation by studying any legible markings I could find on the outside surfaces of the trunks. The most significant markings were two stamp impressions that read “BZ-51” and “Inspected and Accepted.”
I also used my infamous “dog food can apparatus” to enhance and study additional ineligible markings on the trunks. This apparatus—which serves as a DIY alternative to video spectral comparator (VSC) devices—uses a modified dog food can and blue/green corning filter affixed to a Kodak Carousel slide projector to detect infrared luminescence, thereby making the faded lettering legible again.
After studying all the impressions on the trunks, I made a surprising discovery.
The “BZ-51” and “Inspected and Accepted” stamps are the same impressions that were placed on the Manhattan Project’s detonators and weapons fusing assembly cartridges for “Little Boy,” the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II.
Additional research revealed that the trunks were built and loaded at Los Alamos before being sent to Hunters Point Naval Base where they were picked up by the Heavy Cruiser Indianapolis. They were then placed in a detonators locker and transported to the B-29 Air Force Base at Tinian Island.
Even after all my years in forensic analysis, I never could have imagined that these seemingly ordinary trunks could have such a fascinating history. To learn more any of the services we offer at Drexler Document Laboratory, feel free to give us a call or contact us online today!
As a forensic document examiner, I’m sometimes tasked with verifying the identity of a person who would rather remain anonymous. In 2016, for example, the owner of a small bar in South Central Alabama contacted me after receiving a series of threatening phone calls, text messages and emails from a disgruntled patron.
The proprietor of the establish suspected that the culprit might be a pair of brothers who had recently been banned from the property for harassing other patrons and exhibiting violent drunken behavior. My client began receiving the threatening messages soon after these brothers were permanently ejected from the bar.
After a few months, when their threatening messages failed to produce the desired result, the suspected culprits decided to up the ante. At this point, my client received a very sinister-looking jawbone in the mail, which was inscribed with cryptic messages and bound with torn scraps of childrens’ pajamas. This jawbone gave me the handwriting sample I needed to determine whether or not the brothers were behind this disturbing pattern of harassment.
By comparing the inscriptions on the bone to limited handwriting standards from the two brothers, I was able to eliminate the younger brother as the culprit. There are indications, however, that the older brother was a likely source of the writing on the jawbone. Based on this evidence, it’s likely that my client’s suspicions were quite correct.
Interested in learning more about how forensic handwriting analysis can help you get to the bottom of a difficult case? Give Drexler Document Lab a call or contact us online today to get started.