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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Testing or Evaluating Evidence and Writing Reports

Photo of a lab technician writing a report and testing evidence
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

Experts may receive information or evidence related to a case. They may be asked to evaluate or test evidence items and produce analytical reports summarizing their findings. In producing their report, they record all tests and evaluation steps.

In addition to the report, they may generate other information, such as supplementary supporting documentation, including chain-of-custody forms, handwritten notes, summaries of phone conversations with the client or other relevant parties, photographs, sketches, spreadsheets, worksheets and raw data. Experts should preserve all data for discovery and trial.

Throughout all stages of the case, experts should keep a running list of additional information required for follow-up investigation. They can use the list as a guide for preparing tracking devices for case information, either manually or as part of a computer program. A single case may require a number of different investigative methods and follow-up, and experts may handle multiple cases at the same time. Experts must have an error-proof organizational system.

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