Forensic document examiner speaks at PALS meeting

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The Polish American Legal Society hosted a general ­meeting on Thursday, April 14, at the Polish Village Café in Hamtramck featuring guest speaker Todd Welch (center) of Riley, Welch, LaPorte, & ­Associates. Welcoming Welch to the meeting were (l-r) Michael Dean, Jim Makowski, William Jurczak, Brian Hill, Doug Hamel, and Angela ­Marino.


Photo by John Meiu

The Polish American Legal Society welcomed guest speaker Todd Welch of Welch, LaPorte, &?Associates to its general meeting on Thursday, April 14, at the Polish Village Café in Hamtramck. ?
“My fulltime employment is with the Michigan State Police currently assigned to the crime lab as a D/Sgt. and Forensic Document Examiner for the last 23 years,” said Welch.  He is also a principle owner of Riley, Welch, LaPorte, and Associates which is one of the largest forensic firms in the country, providing forensic services to lawyers in the civil sector for more than 20 years. 
Welch said he hoped to educate attorneys, judges, and others within the legal profession about the substantial amount of forensic evidence contained within documents that most attorneys are never aware of, in both civil and criminal matters.

“Some attorneys don’t even realize that they are giving their litigation strategy away by writing on Post-it notes, then providing documents to the opposing side with impressions of what they wrote on the Post-it notes,” said Welch.

Welch also explained that handwriting is identifiable with the individual who wrote it and has been well accepted in the U.S. courts since the 1800s and considered one of the oldest forensic disciplines. 

“Most attorneys don’t realize that handwriting is not protected by the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments and that handwriting has consistently and with great success met the rigors of many Daubert challenges across the United States,” said Welch. “This is crucial to understand whether you are prosecuting/defending a criminal case or engaged in a civil litigation matter.

“Lastly and most importantly, I want attorneys and others within the legal profession to understand the vital importance of making sure that if they are seeking the services of a Forensic Document Examiner (FDE) that they know the difference between a properly trained, competent, and proficient examiner and one who’s not. A great example I give attorneys is, that had the CBS Network done their due diligence in finding a properly trained and competent examiner to examine the Bush Memos, they would have realized that the superscript (th in 111th) is consistent with the document by computer generated as opposed to being typed. 

“That being said most attorneys don’t always know what to look for to make certain their Forensic Document Examiner is properly trained.  The best way for an attorney to make absolutely certain that a Forensic Document Examiner is properly trained is if they are board certified by the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners (ABFDE) or a member of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE).  It should be noted that there are numerous organizations with similar names and acronyms.  The other way would be if they were trained by a law enforcement accredited crime laboratory.”

Welch is available to speak to any legal group. He can be reached by email at Twelch33@aol.com or by phone at 517-204-4289.