Hi, all. I just thought I'd throw this one out for all of us to gnaw over. I recently reread parts of Gideon Epstein's deposition. One part in particular, and here it is: 2 Q.Now, Mr. Epstein, what exactly is 3 your theory about how all these individuals, 4 Chet Ubowski, Leonard Speckin, Edwin Alford, 5 Lloyd Cunningham, Richard Dusick and Howard Rile, 6 got it wrong and you, sir, beginning in the 7 year 2000, almost four years after the murder in 8 this case, and without access to any original 9 handwriting of any party you analyzed, got it 10right? 11 A. Very well. First of all, I'd like 12to say that the field of forensic document 13examination in the United States is a very small 14profession . . . 18Everyone knows everyone else. There 19are certain document examiners who . . . are looked upon by other 23examiners as leaders in their field. . . . In this particular 2 case I think the fact that Howard Rile and 3 Lloyd Cunningham, who became involved in this 4 case very early on, and who were retained by 5 the Ramsey family, coupled with the fact that 6 Lloyd -- that Howard Rile came out of the 7 Colorado bureau and knew the people in the 8 Colorado bureau, I believe that that connection 9 was very instrumental in the Colorado bureau 10coming to the conclusion that they did, because 11Howard Rile had come to the conclusion that he 12did. 13Lloyd Cunningham works very closely 14with Howard Rile and they were both on this 15case, and then it was a matter of chain of 16events, one document examiner after another 17refusing to go up against someone who they knew, 18someone who was large in the profession, for 19fear that they would be criticized for saying 20something that another examiner -- it's sort of 21like an ethics within the medical community, 22where one doctor protects the other doctor. . . . when it came down to Dusak and it 11came down to Speckin and it came down to 12Alford, by that time a number of well-known 13document examiners had already rendered 14conclusions, and I feel personally that the 15other examiners were simply afraid to state what 16they believed to be the truth, or that they 17simply didn't devote the necessary time. . . 6 And I just don't believe that some 7 of these people devoted the necessary amount of 8 time to the case to come up with the correct 9 conclusions, and I think they simply went along 10with what had been previously said because it 11was the most expedient thing to do. What Epstein is saying here is that his colleagues (the experts HE considers qualified to to examination work) are more interested in personal and professional expediency than in diligent work and going with their own principles. Sadly, this "groupthink" phenomenon is common in a lot of places these days. (WMDs in Iraq, anybody?) That, among other reasons, is why Epstein quit and struck out on his own. Now, I won't bother anybody with Epstein's own record, or musings about how the Ramsey lawyer was misinforming the court, or how I think he may have overreached himself. The points I want to focus on are the ones made here: 6 And I just don't believe that some 7 of these people devoted the necessary amount of 8 time to the case to come up with the correct 9 conclusions, and I think they simply went along 10with what had been previously said because it 11was the most expedient thing to do. Ever since the deposition was released, Epstein has been accused of playing the "everybody's-wrong-but-glorious-me" card. BUT, and this is where things get interesting, I recently came upon two things which lend strong credence to what he says. Exhibit A: a piece from PMPT that I had not noticed before now, to my great embarrassment. It concerns the aforementioned Rile and Cunningham, the two experts who sold out to Ramsey money: after being hired by the Ramsey legal team, Rile and Cunningham "pored over the original note from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM," making their presentation just after 2 PM the same day. Their conclusion at the time: neither Patsy nor John wrote the note. Folks, I gotta tell you, I did a double-take on that one that damn near sent my head flying off my shoulders! They came to that conclusion after ONLY three and a half hours! You're telling me that three and a half hours is enough time to make a decision that monumental?! Even if we allow that Epstein may have had more material to work with, he put in a hundred hours before he came to any conclusion. God almighty, what the hell kind of profession is this, anyway?! If Epstein is right, and these people were and are not willing to challenge each other, even when their conclusions are clearly shoddy, there's not much hope. One can certainly understand why Epstein felt the need to leave! He said it himself: "I'm very disappointed in my profession right now ..." Well, he's not the only one! Which brings me to the next article, written by a document examiner who shares Epstein's disillusionment with the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners. Let's see what he says: http://www.documentexaminer.org/blog/?p=438 Specifically, this: The ABFDE will certainly take the broad view on this. Undoubtedly, John Paul Osborn, certified by the ABFDE has an “approved” lab even though he is a private Document Examiner who has never worked for the government as I have or has never had government training as I have. My lab is no different than his. I am a former government Document Examiner for 11 years with Secret Service Training and 35 years overall experience and am willing to train ANY interested or qualified person in a way that will leave no doubt that they have been properly trained. Again, John Paul Osborn is ABFDE Certified and presumably can document that he complies with ALL ABFDE requirements. My lab is similar to his. Is this a case where the ABFDE bends their own rules to include someone while at the same time requiring a strict interpretation of the rules for someone they want to exclude? I have stated before that the ABFDE was set up to EXCLUDE people not set standards for ALL Document Examiners based on statements made to me by a former Milwaukee Police Officer. What dishonor!!! What lack of integrity!!! What lack of fairness!!! What lack of objective standards!!! It is obvious that the ONLY way to solve this problem of training in QD is a college level course that complies w/all academic standards such as Bloom’s Taxonomy as well as all scientific and legal standards available to ANY qualified student, regardless of whether they are related to the Osborns or have worked for a governmental agency as a Document Examiner. There has been a long simmering debate between the government trained examiners and the privately trained examiners. No one owns the knowledge necessary to be proficient in this field. It is readily available in the existing literature. Indeed, Albert Osborn himself, never worked for the government nor had a two year training program, nor passed the rigorous and exclusatory standards set for by the ABFDE and IAI. The same is true for Ordway Hilton, another noted authority in the field of Questioned Documents who even proclaims in his book the virtues of self-learning. SNIP The ABFDE was set up in 1977 with a Law Enforcement Assistance Agency Grant(which means they are required to follow ALL anti-discrimination laws)Their task was to set training standards for the field of Forensic Document Examination in a fair and impartial way. However, through an inquiry I made to Congressman Rob Andrews, I learned that Document Examiners Certified by the ABFDE are comprised of 92% white men and 8% other-meaning women and minorities. The breakdown of the minorities was not specified to hide the fact that, based on information and belief, no black Document Examiners have ever been certified by the ABFDE even though a number of them are out there and I worked with one who was with the Philadelphia Police, Jaques Wambush from Jamaica. Contrary to setting objective stnadards for the field, it seems the ABFDE is trying to protect the millions of dollars in “no-bid” contracts their “white men” members(92%) are getting. This statement makes clear two things. 1) Why the ABFDE would operate in a manner that Epstein suggests: it's all about money. If they lose their monopoly on being the "only" qualified org, then they lose out on the money. Having fellow members challenge each other in court, or even in public, would SERIOUSLY erode their image (no doubt by bringing certain troublesome issues to light). 2) FAR more importantly than that, we're told by many on the IDI side (they know who they are, and so does cynic) that any document examiner who isn't a member is not qualified to testify. But, if I'm reading this right, the guys who INVENTED the standards would not be accepted, since they were never trained the same way they recommend! Moreover, and maybe most important of all, if I'm reading this right, this means that the field of forensic document examination is slave to standards that have not changed in 50 years! Stuff like this almost makes ME want to give up! For me, this may be the best answer: "In McVeigh, the court determined that the document examiner would not be allowed to testify to an opinion but instead could merely point out similarities and differences..." "In Rutherford, the document examiner was allowed to point out similarities and differences found in the evidence but could not testify to an opinion." But, that's another story.