Do you need a forensic document examiner expert witness?
Forensic handwriting examination, also called forensic handwriting analysis, is a discipline within forensic document examination. Handwriting examination is a comparative analysis where a questioned signature or questioned handwriting is compared against the known signature or known handwriting of a person. The purpose is to determine whether the person wrote the questioned writing.
In today’s digital environment, may documents received for examination are electronic such as PDF and JPEG or printout from a computer. Mike’s experience includes founding a computer graphics software company and teaching programming for computer graphics at college and university. He applies this knowledge and experience to his work as a forensic document examiner.
In a recent jury trial in San Diego, Mike was asked whether he knows the definition of a pixel. He proceeded to educate the jury about how digital images are constructed. The cross examining attorney objected. The judge responded, “You asked him what a pixel is.” This background in computer graphics and science is a differentiator for Mike from other forensic document examiners.
In this video, forensic document examiner, Mike Wakshull, answers two fundamental questions that are asked of document examiners as expert witnesses. He also presents a scientific, quantitative approach to assisting with answering these questions.
Where we are located
Located in Temecula, CA, Q9 Consulting, Inc. is centrally located in Southern California to offer forensic document examination, forensic handwriting analysis, and expert witness services in Riverside County, San Diego County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, and Los Angeles County. We are court qualified in each of these counties. Our cases have come from cases from 25 states and four countries. Contact us for any cases requiring authentication of documents and authentication of handwriting throughout the United States and globally. Communication with clients is made using video conferencing. This allows clients to see the results of examinations on our computer screen as the results are discussed.
Select your questioned document examiner with ultimate care
The Court may rule the forensic document examiner is not qualified. The Court may refuse to allow the person to obtain a new document examiner. Here is an example of a case where this occurred.
Watch this video to learn how to vet your prospective document examiner.
from Michael Wakshull — Forensic Document Examiner at
Mike applies science to forensic document examination like no other forensic document examiner
Mike Wakshull, a forensic document examiner located in Temecula, CA, uses his science-based training to deliver excellent, honest results for his attorney and private clients in cases involving questioned documents. As an expert witness, his testimony is presented in layman’s language rather than technical jargon.
Forensic Document Examination for Legal Professionals was published in January, 2019. The intended audience is attorneys and other legal professionals who retain and partner with forensic document examiners. The book describes the work performed by forensic document examiners, and the work product legal professionals should expect from forensic document examiners.
Click here to read the book.
These results include large financial settlements, and the opposing party dropping charges against the defendant. In a recent case in San Diego, CA, based on Mike’s testimony the jury awarded more than $300,000 plus punitive damages for forgery. In a case in Orange County, CA, the judge ruled the plaintiff (the opposing party) signed a letter in order to defraud the court.
In a signature examination case in Los Angeles, CA, the plaintiff dropped the case after Mike testified that the defendant did not sign the document. In each case Mike presented quantifiable results in plain, understandable language.
Contact Mike to discuss your case
Document examination is a powerful tool when performed with skill and expertise. Mike applies years of experience in quality management to forensic document examination and forensic handwriting analysis in trust, will, contract, and other types of cases.
Mike holds a graduate school certificate in forensic document examination from the Graduate School of Criminal Justice at East Tennessee State University, the only program of its kind nationwide. The program requires in-depth research in subjects such as, but not limited to, altered documents, forged signatures, threatening letters, and altered medical records, and ink analysis. Many other topics related to forensic document examination are covered comprehensively throughout the program, including legal precedents for acceptance of document examination by the courts. Mike is the only forensic document examiner in Southern California to have earned a graduate school certificate in forensic document examination.
Mike has worked as a forensic document examiner with clients from 23 states and 4 foreign countries. He is diligent and detail-oriented—essential qualities for success in the industry. In many cases, when the opposition receives his report, the case settles, saving clients both time and money. In a recent case, based on Mike’s testimony, his attorney client obtained all attorney fees, court costs and expenses as part of the judgment against the plaintiff.
Mike presents in jury-speak, not techno-geek
Understandable, clear language from your forensic document examiner expert witness leads to better results whether in or out of court. Mike’s experience as a speaker and teacher enables him to instruct the finders of fact in common language rather than technical speak. He is skilled at presenting the facts during cross-examination and in preparing his attorney clients to successfully cross-examine the opposition. He is a member of National Speakers Association.
Click on the video to learn about forensic document examination.
Document examination cases from across the USA and the world
Although Q9 Consulting, Inc. is based in Riverside County, CA, Mike has worked as a forensic document examiner with clients in 27 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia.
Mike has worked cases from Bahrain, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Mexico.
Bias is a problem in the legal system
In many instances when the opposition receives Mike’s report the case settles. Mike is diligent and detail oriented. His experience as a speaker and teacher instructs the finder of fact in common language rather than technical jargon.
The video below is an example of Mike speaking at the San Diego Law Library.
Invite Mike to speak at your event
2022 speaking engagements
|01/03/2022||Divorce Transition Professionals Berkeley||Little known methods of document fraud||Zoom presentation|
|01/20/2022||Eastern Alameda County Bar Association||Know Your Biases: True Stories From the Courtroom||Zoom presentation|
|02/23/2022||Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Los Angeles||Real cases of Document fraud||Zoom presentation|
|03/17/2022||Troy Gould, PC||Little known secrets of altered documents||Zoom presentation|
|04/04/2022||University of San Diego Law School||Overview of forensic document examination||Zoom presentation|
|04/11/2022||Riverside County Bar Association||Panel discussion on retaining a forensic expert||Riverside, CA|
|04/13/2022||Divorce Transition Professionals Walnut Creek||Little known methods of document fraud||Zoom presentation|
|05/10/2022||North County Bar Association||Little known secrets of altered documents||Zoom presentation|
|06/28/2022||Divorce Transition Professionals Camarillo||Little known methods of document fraud||Zoom presentation|
|07/06/2022||Continuing Education at the Bar – CEB||Identifying and Addressing Fraudulent Real Estate Documents||Zoom presentation|
|10/06/2022||Attorney Credits||Implicit bias in the courtroom: Will it cost you your next case||Zoom presentation|
|10/03/2022||Probate law class – University of San Diego||Document fraud in probate and elder abuse cases||Zoom presentation|
|10/06/2022||Attorney Credits||Implicit bias in the courtroom: Will it cost you your next case||Zoom presentation|
|10/13/2022||Divorce Transition Professionals||Document fraud in family law cases||Zoom presentation|
|10/16/2022||California Academy of Attorneys for Healthcare Professionals||Does your subconscious defeat your case? Lessons of implicit bias||San Diego|
|10/17/2022||Calesq for Thompson Reuters||Know Your Biases, True Stories from the Courtroom||Zoom presentation|
|12/13/2022||Calesq for Thompson Reuters||Little known secrets of altered documents||Zoom presentation|
We Subscribe to a Code of Ethics for Forensic Science
As a member of Scientific Association of Forensic Examiners (SAFE) and National Association of Document Examiners (NADE), Mike subscribes to their strict code of ethics. Q9 Consulting supports the new code of ethics proposed by the National Commission on Forensic Science.
In September, 2016, the National Commission on Forensic Science released a National Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility for Forensic Science and Forensic Medicine Service Providers. The purpose is to assure all forensic practitioners are held to high ethical standards that will be enforced. The requirements of the code are.
- Accurately represent his/her education, training, experience, and areas of expertise.
- Pursue professional competency through training, proficiency testing, certification, and presentation and publication of research findings.
- Commit to continuous learning in the forensic disciplines and stay abreast of new findings, equipment and techniques.
- Promote validation and incorporation of new technologies, guarding against the use of non-valid methods in casework and the misapplication of validated methods.
- Avoid tampering, adulteration, loss, or unnecessary consumption of evidentiary materials.
- Avoid participation in any case where there are personal, financial, employment-related or other conflicts of interest.
- Conduct full, fair and unbiased examinations, leading to independent, impartial, and objective opinions and conclusions.
- Make and retain full, contemporaneous, clear and accurate written records of all examinations and tests conducted and conclusions drawn, in sufficient detail to allow meaningful review and assessment by an independent person competent in the field.
- Base conclusions on generally-accepted procedures supported by sufficient data, standards and controls, not on political pressure or other outside influence.
- Do not render conclusions that are outside one’s expertise.
- Prepare reports in unambiguous terms, clearly distinguishing data from interpretations and opinions, and disclosing all known associated limitations that prevent invalid inferences or mislead the judge or jury.
- Do not alter reports or other records, or withhold information from reports for strategic or tactical litigation advantage.
- Present accurate and complete data in reports, oral and written presentations and testimony based on good scientific practices and validated methods.
- Communicate honestly and fully, once a report is issued, with all parties (investigators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other expert witnesses), unless prohibited by law.
- Document and notify management or quality assurance personnel of adverse events, such as an unintended mistake or a breach of ethical, legal, scientific standards, or questionable conduct.
- Ensure reporting, through proper management channels, to all impacted scientific and legal parties of any adverse event that affects a previously issued report or testimony.
Forensic handwriting comparison eliminates guesswork by comparing the red questioned writing with the black known writing
Mike Wakshull applies computer technology to examination of handwriting and documents. Adobe Photoshop CC offers tools that make comparison faster and more accurate than manual methods of comparison.
Photoshop allows the document examiner to place the questioned signature adjacent to the known signatures. In this example of signature examination from Orange County, CA, the height of the first initial in each signature was made similar. The questioned signature is black, the known signature was changed to red. This is one of many known signatures that were used for comparison. The judge ruled this was a forgery perpetrated by the plaintiff.
Photoshop was used to discover a forged signature
Document examiners are sometimes asked to determine whether a document is a photocopy of a legitimate document. When the photocopy is done well, it is often difficult, or impossible to determine the authenticity of the source document. When a person is careless creating a document that will be passed as authentic, the document examiner can determine the photocopy is not made from an authentic document.
In this example from Riverside, CA, a person created a contract, then placed two signatures onto the document. I could not determine whether they were placed onto the page using computer software such as Photoshop, or they were placed onto the page from a manual cutout.The Court ruled the questioned document is not authentic and is an altered document.
A telltale sign on the page is the signature line sloped down to the right for each signature. All the computer printed text on the page was perfectly horizontal.