Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Handwriting analyst's qualifications "clearly paltry"

The Rocky:

A handwriting analyst who said he is 99.9 percent certain that John Mark Karr wrote the JonBenet Ramsey ransom note was disqualified as an expert witness earlier this year by a federal judge who challenged his expertise.

Georgia Federal District Court Judge Clay Land wrote that analyst Curtis Baggett was not certified by several industry groups, had not undergone proficiency tests and had not authored texts in the field of handwriting analysis.

In comparison to another expert witness, Land said Baggett's qualifications "are clearly paltry."

Baggett responded Tuesday that he has testified in more than 2,500 cases and was successfully disqualified in only about four. He said he has never been disqualified when he has appeared at trial.

A document examiner studying at Handwriting University, a training company that Baggett and his son run, says sniping is not unusual in the field . . . .

Kind of sounds like chiropractic to me.

Update: This has been out there for a couple of days. The $118,000 figure found in the ransom note was on a pay stub on John Ramsey's desk:
John Mark Karr reportedly wrote in a 2005 e-mail to University of Colorado professor Michael Tracey that a check stub on John Ramsey's desk included the figure of $118,000 - the amount included in the mysterious ransom note found at the Ramsey home.

If true, the development - reported in recent days by CBS News - could be significant. The check stub and its location, Ramsey's desk, appear to be specific references not commonly discussed in news coverage of the JonBenet Ramsey murder.
Update: Craig Silverman pointed out on MSNBC just now that handwriting analysis is not accepted in all courts and that it is in fact a "soft science."

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