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“Who Wrote That Email?”

Forensic Authorship Attribution and Stylometry

TASA ID: 3949

Some cases hinge on the authorship of a document.   Whether we want to know about the author of a defamatory email, the source of a ransom note, or the authenticity of a will, one of the most important pieces of evidence is the one that establishes who wrote it.    Historically, most documents were handwritten and handwriting experts (today they go by the title “forensic document examiners”) could determine who wrote something from the slant of an f or the height of a t.  Even with typewritten documents, they could notice a chipped or an out-of-line c and identify the specific typewriter that created the document.   Physical creation also produces physical variance.

Fire and Explosion: When Expertise Matters

TASA ID: 4701

A 14-year old was accused of endangerment by exploding an incendiary device.  An incendiary device is a bomb that is designed to start fires.  The teenager learned how to create this device while surfing the internet - the instructions told how to build THE WORKS BOMB by using aluminum foil, a commercial toilet cleaner, and an emptied soda bottle.

The teenager’s behavior was immature and potentially dangerous, but fortunately, it took place in a large open space with no one else in attendance; therefore, no one was injured.  However, the police were alerted and arrested the young perpetrator on the spot.

Interrogation Safeguards

TASA ID: 2483

An article entitled, “WHEN EMPLOYEES CONFESS, SOMETIMES FALSELY” appeared in the business section of the March 9, 2014, edition of The New York Times.  It discussed the interrogation of employees suspected of misconduct, mainly theft, by private persons acting in an employer's behalf, pointing out that confessions, when obtained, are not always true or necessarily accurate.  Rather, they result from what might best be described as questionable interrogation techniques.  The article did not discuss legal action that might be taken by an employee subjected to an interrogation, whose reputation is sullied thereby, against his or her employer.
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