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Like many solicitors we at McGarr Solicitors are attending our Continuous Professional Development seminars. Solicitors have a quota of CPD work to complete to meet professional requirements.

Often, it is similar to chewing on sawdust. But not last night. The writer attended a seminar on firearms and fingerprints.

Fingerprints were a Victorian “discovery”. They are not really appreciated by Irish judges, who tend to think of them as assimilated with witness identification which is still treasured despite the formal warnings judges are obliged to deliver to juries about the dangers of visual identification.

In fact fingerprints are material for heavy duty intellectual analysis. See Henry Templeman HERE for a glance at the subject.

Templeman quotes a comment on the results of a proficiency test applied to156 fingerprint experts;

“’Errors of this magnitude within a discipline singularly admired and respected for its touted absolute certainty as an identification process have produced chilling and mind- numbing realities. Thirty-four participants, an incredible 22% of those involved, substituted presumed but false certainty for truth. By any measure, this represents a profile of practice that is unacceptable and thus demands positive action by the entire community.”

In fact, there is more art than science in fingerprinting. Zealotry is a danger; we do not want Dodge City cleaned up at all costs. No enthusiastic prosecutors, please.