Entries by Mike Wakshull

A weak forensic opinion helps win a case

A weak forensic opinion helps win a case. You have hired a forensic examiner to analyze evidence for your civil case. After a thorough examination of the evidence, the forensic examiner delivers a weak forensic opinion toward favoring your theory of the case. Will the examiner’s weak opinion help you in trial? When the opinion […]

A standard operating procedure for document examination

Standard operating procedures A standard operating procedure best suited for their needs is developed by each document examiner. Regulated industries dictate the standards to be followed. For non-regulated industries, the examiner can follow ASTM/SWGDOC/SAFE or some other industry-recognized standards. When the document examiner’s standard operating procedure (SOP) is based on the ASTM, SWGDOC, SAFE, or other industry […]

Mike’s testimony at the Zahau v. Shacknai trial

On March 5 and 6, 2018 forensic document examiner Mike Wakshull testified in the wrongful death trial of Rebecca Zahau. Handwriting examination was used to determine who wrote the words, “SHE SAVED HIM CAN YOU SAVE HER” on a door at the Spreckels Mansion on Coronado Island, California. In 2011 Rebecca Zahau was found dead […]

What you need to know before hiring a forensic expert

As an attorney, you will probably retain a forensic expert for a prospective litigation or investigation. How will you know whether this person was qualified to perform the work? Could they withstand the scrutiny of cross-examination? How will you vet the person to determine whether they are qualified as a partner for your legal case? […]

Forgery opinion – Can a forensic document examiner opine to forgery?

What is forgery? Forensic document examiners do not offer a forgery opinion regarding the authenticity of a handwritten document. Forensic document examiners opine whether a document contains handwriting not written by the person who purportedly wrote the document. They do not offer a forgery opinion. Handwriting not written by the person who purportedly wrote it […]

Cut-and-paste without the source document

Generally, a document examiner cannot determine that a signature on a photocopy is cut-and-paste unless the source signature is available. There are exceptions to this rule. 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. Signs […]

Legal definition of writing

Definitions for questioned document examiners Federal and states codes offer a legal definition of writing. Forensic document examiners often are retained to authenticate writing. According to the Scientific Working Group for Forensic Document Examination (www.swgdoc.org), “The forensic document examiner conducts scientific examinations, comparisons, and analyses of documents in order to: (1) establish genuineness or non-genuineness, […]

Is the signature forgery?

A document examiner is not able to declare a signature or document is a forgery! Since forgery requires intent to deceive this opinion is not for the document examiner to offer. The questioned document examiner may opine whether the signature is authentic or not authentic. Forgery is for the trier of fact to determine. Your document […]