Put Your Fingerprints on This Bay Area Event

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If you’ve been reading Sue Russell’s series of stories on wrongful convictions – and you live in the San Francisco Bay area – consider attending a free talk this Thursday (Nov. 1) on “Do Fingerprints Tell the Truth?”

The session, part of the Bay Area Science Festival, features two forensic scientists and a crime scene investigator from the San Francisco Police Department discussing the challenges and successes of working with fingerprints and other analyses of body traces. A chance to ask questions will follow. The session dovetails neatly with Russell’s “Why Fingerprints Aren’t the Proof We Thought They Were,” which took a hard look at the certainty which accompanies fingerprint evidence and the problems that arise when probabilities aren’t factored into systems that can now look up millions of fingerprints on the fly.

The scientists are Christophe Champod, a professor the University of Lausanne’s School of Criminal Sciences /Institute of Forensic Science , and Joëlle Vuille, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Irvine. Champod led the Interpretation Research Group of Britain’s Forensic Science Service before returning to his alma mater of Lausanne to head the Institute of Forensic Science. He specializes in the statistical evaluation of forensic identification techniques. Vuille, also a Lausanne grad, is an expert on the admissibility of scientific evidence and the use of probabilities in court.

Joining the two will be Sgt. Lyn Weggenman-O’Connor, an expert in fingerprint identification and blood spatter interpretation who has processed more than 3,000 crime scenes.

The evening is hosted by swissnex San Francisco, an arm of the Swiss consulate, and moderated by Pacific Standard’s online editor, Michael Todd (yours truly). The location are swissnex’s offices at 730 Montgomery Street, in the heart of the Financial District, and doors open at 6:30 p.m. Again, the event is free, but do please register here in advance.

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