ASTM Subcommittee E30.02 on Questioned Documents closed after private sector voting members of E30.02 and other interested stakeholders filed appeals and registered complaints alleging that a coalition of E30.02 subcommittee members affiliated with government agencies and government-sponsored membership organizations were violating ASTM due process requirements and federal antitrust laws prohibiting unfair trade practices. Confronted with allegations of due process violations and of improperly using the ASTM voluntary consensus standards development process to obtain an unfair economic advantage in the marketplace of forensic document examination expert services, the public sector coalition of subcommittee members opted to use their control of the majority vote to close down Subcommittee E30.02.

    Briefly, there were issues between government examiners (the majority) and private sector examiners (the minority) that led to challenges concerning due process, inappropriate voting assignments, dominance, and more. Rather than meet the challenges, the majority members decided to close the subcommittee and use the FBI funded SWGDOC group to write standards.
    See the slide presentation for more details.
    The consensus standards published by the ASTM Subcommittee on Questioned Documents are no longer what are called "active" standards, because to remain active a standard must be renewed every 5 years. The questioned document standards cannot be renewed because there is no longer a Questioned Document Subcommittee (see previous question/answer for further information on its closing). Inactive status does not necessarily make the content invalid, with the exception of subsequent technological changes. The ASTM standards for questioned document examiners are still the only standards written by an ANSI approved consensus body.

    The ASTM still maintains the copyright to the Questioned Document Subcommittee standards, but stated to its members that the standards could be used fro derivative works by anyone wishing to write standards based on those published by the subcommittee. For further guidelines on using the standards as derivatives, contact the ASTM (ph: 610-832-9500).
    A document examiner is often called a "handwriting expert" because a majority of the work he or she performs involves handwriting. However, a handwriting expert must have training in more areas that just handwriting to be competent in doing forensic work case work. The document examiner answers questions relating to the reliability and authenticity of a document which may involve signatures, text writing, hand printing or questions about how or when a document was prepared, whether the document was altered in any way, or recovery of information from erased or obliterated portions of the document

    Document examiners also compare printed matter and perform ink and paper comparisons. In other words, as the name implies, they examine every part of the entire document as it is relevant to a case.

    Law Enforcement crime laboratories often handle problems that are rare in private practice, and vice-versa. Agency examiners may, for example, be asked to decipher a charred or water soaked document, determine if official documents are authentic [passports, postal money orders etc.], or match crime scene evidence such as torn pieces of paper. Private practice examiners handle case work that is rare in the average crime laboratory, such as writings involving the elderly, individuals with medical conditions and document assessment in medical malpractice cases. Expertise in handwriting is only one requirement of the profession.
    No. It has been estimated that examiners testify in only 2-3% of the cases in which they render opinions. In most instances, examiners submit a written report and that is the end of their involvement.
    Yes. The Journal of Forensic Document Examination publishes research conducted by academic scientists that deals with various aspects of handwriting and motor control. Many of these researchers are members of the International Graphonomics Society. The Journal of Forensic Document Examination also publishes informal studies conducted by document examiners that often involve issues resulting from case work.

    Research and case studies on handwriting-related issues can also be found in motor control, experimental psychology, medical, and forensic science journals, such as The Journal of Forensic Science, The Canadian Journal of Forensic Science, The Journal of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners.
    No. The word "Graphonanalyst" is a term trademarked by the International Graphoanalysis Society (IGAS) designating an individual who trained in that school. A Graphoanalyst and a graphologist both evaluate personality based on observations made from handwriting. These fields are not related to forensic document examination, and training in these areas is not considered to be training for forensic evaluation of handwriting.

    Forensic document examination is a branch of the forensic sciences. Document examination involves many areas relating to the validity of a document in addition to evaluating handwriting. Forensic document examiners are employed in law enforcement and other government agencies or own businesses in the private sector.
    Absolutely not! Graphonomics is the multi-disciplinary field of fundamental and applied experimental research of handwriting movements and related motor skills. The International Graphonomics Society (IGS) holds biennial conferences to present current research in motor control as applied to handwriting and drawing, for educational and remedial purposes, and for specific purposes such as in paleography, security, and forensic work. (www.graphonomics.org/origin.php).

    Graphology is the study of handwriting to extract personality traits and create a profile of the individual. The confusion may stem from an organization called the International Graphoanalysis Society (IGAS), because of a similar acronym.