Featured Expert Witness Article

How to Take Request Writing

by Katherine M. Koppenhaver

Request writing exemplars are handwriting samples made at the request and under the supervision of the police, document examiners, or attorneys for comparison with questioned writing.

1: Use a questionnaire to validate any circumstances that could affect the writing.

2: Duplicate the writing conditions of the questioned document. If a suspect writing is handwritten, get handwriting for proper comparison. If a suspect document is printed in uppercase printing, the request writing should be uppercase printing as well.

3: Duplicate the writing instrument. Compare ballpoint pen with ballpoint, pencil with pencil, and so on.

4: Duplicate the writing environment. Photocopy the document, whiteout the suspect writing and duplicate the form several times. Have the suspect sign the samples one at a time, removing each sample as it is completed so that he cannot copy from his earlier work. If the questioned document is not available, use similar size paper to make up exemplars.

5: If the questioned document is written under unusual circumstances, these circumstances should be duplicated. If the writer was standing while signing a questioned document, the writer should be asked to write in a standing position.

6: Give specific instructions and make a note of the instructions given. For example, the writer was asked to print using all uppercase letters.

7; To prevent the writer from disguising his exemplars, increase the speed of dictation to rush the writer. Distract him between handwriting samples.

8: Have the suspect write with both hands. Indicate which hand is being used on each form that is signed.

9: Date and sign all request writing with your initials; number the documents in the order in which they were executed; and include any special instructions that you gave the writer such as, "Use all uppercase".

10: Additional request writing can be worded to include words, expressions, letters, names, and combinations found in the questioned writing. When a case involves numbers, have the suspect write his numbers from one to one hundred. Organize a diversity of alphanumeric characters into a paragraph such as the following letter.

About The Author: Katherine M. Koppenhaver: Document Examiner, Forensic Document Examination, Inc. Click on the link to view her profile. Her website can be found here.