Questioned Documents March 2015 News Update

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Academy News are those of the identified authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Academy.

Source: Thomas W. Vastrick, BS, Section Chair

The 67th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences is now in the books. The Questioned Documents Section sponsored three successful workshops. I would like to thank Karen Nobles, Peter Tytell, Mark Goff, and Linton Mohammed for their efforts in putting together tremendous and informative products for the participants. Many recertification points were available to those who were able to participate. I also want to thank Kevin Kulbacki who spent many hours putting these programs together. Kevin and I made every effort to try to avoid time conflicts in our workshops but were unable to do so. AAFS has limited times available for workshops and having three workshops including two full-day workshops, made our request impossible. The more time that I spend as an officer of the Academy, the more I have come to understand that conflicts are bound to occur. I can state categorically that every effort is made to accommodate all potential conflicts. As President Weedn stated in the Section Officers Meeting, we would not have this problem if we had 28-hour days.

Jim Lee put together a fantastic section program that ran two full days and included a joint session with the Criminalistics and General Sections. There were several reports concerning OSAC and standards issues that helped clarify our status as we move forward with our current evolution. We also heard results of funded research providing information and research results that we will be using regularly in our practices. All told, it was an important meeting.

At the section business meeting, we welcomed several new members including two trainee affiliates. As an aging industry, the infusion ofnew blood is vital. If you are in training or know someone who is in training, please encourage them to apply for AAFS membership which has many advantages. Relative to that, I am dedicating this year to membership promotion. We have too many members who are not Fellows and we need more Fellows in our section. Fellows can hold offices and you hold a title that is the pinnacle of the premier forensic science organization in the U.S. and possibly the world. The 2015-16 officers stand ready, not only to encourage your promotion, but to assist you in working toward becoming published if this is the only prerequisite preventing your advancement.

Speaking of officers, your 2015-16 officers are: Thomas Vastrick – QD Section Chair; Linton Mohammed – QD Section Secretary; and Carl McClary – QD Section Board of Directors Representative. A special thanks to Jane Lewis for her three years on the Board of Directors and the efforts she has undertaken in that office. Jane also serves on the Annual Meeting Program Committee as Workshops Chair for 2015-16.

OSAC committees held public meetings during the AAFS conference. My personal view is that we are in good hands and we are proceeding in a good direction. Undoubtedly we will have to come to terms with new ways of doing certain things so it would be a good idea to keep current on what is happening and don’t be afraid to chime in with your opinion. The subcommittee for forensic document examination is comprised of a fine list of specialists and includes forensic document examiners who all meet the training standard for our profession. This is encouraging since, as a profession, we had no say as to which applicants would be selected. If you want to participate, applied but was not accepted, just wait. There will be regular turnover in the subcommittees and your time will come.

The 68th Annual Scientific Meeting theme is Transformation: Embracing Change. The Questioned Documents Section contribution to a meeting theme paper is in this issue, so be sure to read it. The meeting will be held in Las Vegas, NV, and Jan Kelly has graciously agreed to serve as Section Program Chair. Section Workshop Chair has not been selected yet. It is not too early to begin planning your attendance and presentation for the meeting. Las Vegas conferences are usually well attended so timely submissions and requests for speaking times is a good idea as is making reservations at the headquarters hotel. Kindly check out the AAFS website for more information (

Finally, have you checked out the AAFS app yet?