The process used to identify partial fingerprints is sufficiently reliable to allow courts to admit expert testimony regarding the matching of a partial (or “latent”) impression with a full fingerprint, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled today. Because the process — known as ACE-V (analysis, comparison, evaluation and verification) — is generally accepted by the fingerprint examiner community, it meets the tests under Daubert and state law for admissibility of expert testimony, the SJC said.

However, the SJC declined to allow expert testimony with regard to application of the ACE-V process to identifications based on partial information aggregated from multiple, simultaneous fingerprints. “We conclude that the lack of accepted explicit universal standards controlling the application of ACE-V to simultaneous impressions counsels against admission of this evidence,” the SJC said.

The case is Commonwealth v. Patterson, SJC-09478.

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Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.