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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

The Final Report

The analyst's final report should demonstrate organization, clarity and neatness. Its contents depend on the scope of the assignment. The following recommended list of items for inclusion is intended to suggest possible areas to consider:

  • Case name.
  • Case file number(s).
  • Date.
  • Lab and analyst contact information.
  • Name and business address of requesting attorney or other agency.
  • General description of the item(s), event or activity that is the subject of the assignment.
  • Stated objective of the assignment.
  • General methodology used.
  • Case summary.
  • Expert's conclusions and final opinion.
  • Specific dates, times and places of investigatory testing or other activities.
  • Photographs, samples, drawings, schedules, maps, charts and summaries relevant to the case.
  • Investigative reports incorporated into the report.
  • Test examinations, calculations, computations or other procedures that were followed.
  • Consultation with other experts, particularly with those recognized as an expert in their relevant field.
  • Statements of various hypotheses under investigation.
  • Areas of investigation that are still open because of unavailable data or incomplete test or evaluation results.
  • Findings from the physical examination — all normal physical findings, negative findings, and objective findings and observations.
  • Limiting conditions, exclusions and disclaimers — qualifying the opinion or leaving conclusions somewhat open, subject to later determined facts.

When preparing the report, the expert should use standard internal quality assurance and final check procedures. The expert should double-check all calculations and make sure technical terms are used correctly. The report must be reviewed for typographical errors, grammar and syntax, and clarity. The expert must verify the accurate sequence of pages, exhibits and attachments. The expert must cover all the basic "who, what, when, where, why and how" questions and make sure the report is distributed only to the proper recipients.

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