Florida fingerprint analyst may have mishandled hundreds of cases

WESH image

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla.(WESH)  —Shocking allegations have come out of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which has removed a fingerprint analyst because of mistakes he’s made in cases.

The state attorney’s office cites multiple job performance issues, including clerical errors, failure to identify what prints are important and the mislabeling of fingerprint cards.

The widespread impact dates back to 2001.

In question are at least 877 closed cases.

“The reality is there’s only a finite number of cases where fingerprints are actually the primary evidence of the case,” said WESH 2 News legal expert Richard Hornsby. Hornsby said he doesn’t believe the investigation will lead to many overturned verdicts or result in the dismissal of pending cases.

“Maybe 10 percent of the cases where he was the only person tying a defendant to a particular crime,” Hornsby said.

So, what happens in those cases?

“The prosecution is either going to have to go in and have a second fingerprint examiner examine those cases or they’re going to have to allow those people to withdraw their plea and dismiss those cases,” Hornsby said.

The Sheriff’s Office analyst has been reassigned to administrative duties while the investigation takes place.

The state attorney’s office said Friday night there may be more cases and they are “still in the process of researching.”

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