March 09, 2015

Jenner & Block Partner Gabriel A. Fuentes wrote an article titled “How I Created a Monster,” which was published in the Winter 2015 issue of Litigation, the journal of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation.  In it, Mr. Fuentes details his unsuccessful challenges to the admissibility of fingerprint identification evidence on behalf of his defendant client in United States v. Clacy Watson Herrera.  “I dared to challenge a gold standard of so-called ‘scientific evidence,’” he writes.  “I dared to argue that everything we have been told about fingerprint examiners’ ability to claim a match between a fingerprint deposited on a surface somewhere and a particular individual is without any real scientific basis, and that without an adequate showing of validity or reliability these claims should not be admitted as proper expert testimony.”  Although his Daubert motion in the case was denied by the district court, the denial was affirmed by the Seventh Circuit, and the US Supreme Court denied certiorari, Mr. Fuentes suggests that a rethinking of the unquestioned admission of fingerprint matching may be on the horizon.