Legal Aspects Related to the Use of Handwriting Analysis
There are many cited court cases which involve the concept that handwriting is a public manifestation of self such as clothing and speech and as such are not considered to be private.
There are other cited court cases which deal with the analysis of the personality from a handwriting exemplar in the areas of the mental and emotional states of the writer.
In the field of personnel screening…
It is important to follow the guideline that any reports generated from the analysis of an applicant’s handwriting will not be the sole criterion for making a decision regarding employment. The information obtained should be utilized in future interviews to ask specific questions about personality traits which may or may not impact the person’s ability to discharge the requested duties. Questions can also be fashioned from the reports and used in reference checking relative to the applicants experience/abilities for accomplishing prior jobs.
The process of analyzing a person’s handwriting for job related characteristics usually does not involve a face to face meeting with the applicant. Information sent to the analyst usually does not include age, sex, race and/or religion.
If using handwriting analysis in your selection process, the following precautions would be useful:
- Never use the process as the sole criterion in making a decision
- Notify applicants that their handwriting will be analyzed and that they will be able to read an critique the report
- Use a trained and certified handwriting analyst (See Schools)
- Reports from handwriting analysis should be utilized for all applicants in a particular job area
In the field of counseling…
The handwriting reports must be done through the auspices of a trained and licensed councilor in many states. Some handwriting analysts are also psychologists and councilors.
In the field of personal analyses…
Usually these are reports requested by a person interested in self-knowledge. The analyst will give them a written report or a verbal one depending on the style of that particular handwriting analyst.
In doing analyses on another party, (3rd party), it is common practice to follow the ethics of doing such 3rd party reports. The following three areas are guidelines:
- Applicants for a job if the analyst follows a job description in reporting on the personality traits;
- Children under the age of 18 if the guardian and/or parent requests the report;
- Public figures who can expect such attention;
Graphology and the Courts:
(1970-1979), Boulder Colorado Juvenile Court Center, Boulder, CO. Graphologist: Mary DeLapp. Judge: Horace Holmes. Graphologist provided evaluations for juveniles for the purpose of determining placement penalties and treatment to the court and the probation department.
(1977), Bourbon County, Circuit Court, Lexington, Kentucky. Client Attorney: Vincent Giovanni, 24901 Northwest Highway, Southfield, Michigan (formerly of Lexington, Kentucky) 48075, 313/645-1140. Graphologist: Jane Underwood. Graphologist testified as to the emotional mental state of a police officer accused of murder and robbery. The result was a hung jury, which the client attorney considered a victory.
(December 1978), Orphans Court No. of 1977, Philadelphia, PA. Client: Estate of Alexander Younger. Client Attorney: James S. Monteith, Law Firm of Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish, Levy, and Kauffman, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 215/875-7000. Graphologist: Herry 0. Teltscher, Ph.D. Graphologist testified that the handwriting in the will in question indicated undue influence. The case has been appealed and is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
(May 1979), Dockett No. 100, Superior Court of New Jersey, Probate Trial. Client: Estate of Adrianna Heere. Client Attorney: Barry Epstein, 15 North Fifth Street, Saddlebrook, NJ, 17662, 201/845-5962. Judge: Fred Galda. Graphologist Herry 0. Teltscher, Ph.D. Graphologist testified that the handwriting in the will in question indicated undue influence regarding its signature. Judge decided in favor of the defense.
(July 1980), Dockett No. D39990, Denver County Court House, District Action, Denver, CO. Client: Bruce Gibson. Client Attorney: Robert Lehman, 2401 East Second Avenue, Denver, CO 80200. Graphologist Maurine Moore. Graphologist testified as to parental stability and the best interests of the child in a child custody case of Bruce Given, father, vs. Mrs. Melvin Smith, Jr., mother. Judge decided in favor of the mother.
(March 1981), U.S. District Court No. 80-021, Cheyenne, WY. Client: Mike Bamrick. Client Attorney: John Masters, 204 East 22nd Street, Cheyenne, WY, 307/634-8891. Judge: Judge Brimmer. Graphologist: Maurine Moore. Graphologist testified as to intent to deceive on a livestock contract. Line was written on document after purchase order. Personality characteristics of deceit were indicated in the writing. The opposition, Del Tinsley, admitted to deceit, but as client lost his copy of the contract, he did not win the case.
(November 1981), Kootenai County Court, Coeur d’Alene, ID, Dockett No. F29468. Client: Donald Paradis. Client Attorney: William Brown, P.0. Box 687, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814, 208/667-1250. Judge: Judge Haman. Graphologist: Lon Woodbury. Graphologist was requested by the Court to provide jury screening for the trial in order to obtain unbiased jurors to avoid the narrow-minded and not as independent or open-minded as defense attorney had wanted. Jury returned a guilty verdict.
(December 1981), Circuit Court, Cook County, Chicago, IL, Docket No. 77 1 25427. Client: Robert & Gail Glueckert. Client Attorney: Robert Kiesler, of Kiesler & Berman, 188 West Randolph, Suite 1300, Chicago, IL 60601. Judge: Judge Englestein. Graphologist: Father Anthony J. Becker, Ph.D.. In a counter suit evolving from the original suit of Urlacker versus Glueckert, the Glueckerts filed a wrongful death suit against Thomas Urlacker. Urlacker admitted in an 11-page letter to a friend that he ‘put that girl in the ground.’ The ‘girl’ was Glueckerts’ missing 14-year-old daughter. Because the body has never been found, murder charges have not been filed. The psychologist/graphologist provided the principle testimony from the 11-page letter that Urlacker was a mentally unstable sociopath. The jury awarded the Glueckerts five million dollars in damages.
(June 1982), No. 82-CI-1560, Fayette County Circuit Court, Civil Branch, Third Division: Lexington, Kentucky. Client: Janet Pacett Sinkhorn, Attorney in fact for Estill Thomas Packet. Client Attorney: Jim J. Varellas, 266 West Main Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40507, 606/252-4473. Graphologist: Jane Underwood. Graphologist testified on mental state of client in case versus Lowel Scott Fields, Eddie McCann, Paxton Van Service Inc. Client’s writing indicated stress and evidence of alcohol influence, along with the possible use of force in signing document in question.
(December 1982), Docket No. CV-81-82, 7th Judicial District, Truth or Consequences, NM. Client: Jack Crandall. Client Attorney: Leslie Smith, Truth or Consequences, NM 87901, 505/894-7161. Graphologist: Judith Housley. In a counter suit evolving from the original suit, Cogley alleged Crandall used” witchcraft” to control her life, causing undue mental, emotional, and marital stress. Graphologist testified for Crandall and determined Cogley’s capacity for fantasy provided support for the overly imaginative mental processes which fostered the allegations.
(October 1984), San Diego Superior Court, San Diego, California, #130971 the Estate of Glenn Lockett, Clients Lillian Cook and Tomi Ruth Martin, Clients-Attorney: Jerry Leahy, 2120 Fourth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101. Judge: Ben W. Hamrick. Graphologist: Paula A. Sassi. Graphologist testified 1) to the mental and emotional state of a woman at the time she wrote a codicil to her will and 2) that the contents of the codicil were dictated to the woman. The Graphologist’s testimony was given twice. The first testimony was before Judge Hamrick to determine its admissibility as testimony, which was granted. The second testimony was before the jury. The decision was against the clients.
(June 1984), Case No. 83-939-Cr-JWR, United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami, FL: United States vs. Thomas Kloszewski. Client: Thomas Kloszewski. Judge: James W. Kehoe. Client Attorneys: Michael J. Osman and G. David O’Leary, 2260 Southwest 8th Street, Suite 201, Miami, FL 33135, 303/642- 3473. Graphologist: Roxanne Perri Lux. Graphologist testified on mental state of client at the time of signing a written statement indicating extreme stress possibly caused by reaction to duress imposed at Drug Enforcement Agency interview room shortly after arrest.
(February 1985), Superior Court, San Bernadino County, Victorville, CA, Plea Bargain Trial, Case No. VCR-3033. Client: Thomas M. Maxwell. Client Attorney and Public Defender: Kathleen McCalom, 14707 Seventh Street, Suite 100, Victorville, CA 92392, 619/245- 0174. Judge: Donald R. Egan. Graphologist: Jennifer Triaget. Graphologist testified that the mental, emotional, and social state of the defendant had improved measurably during the period of confinement during which time Maxwell participated in Legibility Training. Graphologist testimony supported the contention that Maxwell was above average intelligence and his extreme vulnerability contributed to lack of common sense. Maximum penalty was three years. Judge ruled thirteen months.
(March 1989), University of San Diego Honor Court, affiliate of the USD School of Law, San Diego, CA. Client: James W. Tolbert, law student. The Honor Court consisted of 3 law professors and three law students. Graphologist: Paula A. Sassi. Because the student was under treatment for cancer, he was permitted to take the test home where his mother, a Ph.D. in Education, officiated and monitored the time for the test. The professor questioned the speed of his writing which caused the student to appear before an Honor Court. The Graphologist testified that the take-home test could have been written in the 90 minutes allotted for the test. The Honor Court vote was 5 to 1 against the student. His grade was lowered to “C” with a note placed in his file.
*Report*: Reported in (March 5, 1990), issue of _The National Law Journal_, Houston [TX] Judge Ted Poe is including a handwriting analysis in the pre-sentence investigations with the inclusion of a report from a handwriting analysts in an upcoming case. From the article it appears that Alice S. Weiser is the handwriting analyst. [This needs to be followed up for more information – especially if Judge Poe is still using handwriting analysis – how many cases – what court]
(August 1990), Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department New York State. The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Domingo CORREAL a/k/a Correal Domingo, Defendant-Appellant. Winston McIntosh, Brooklyn, of counsel (Philip L. Weinstein, New York City, attorney) for defendant-appellant. Judges: J.P. Kupferman, Sullivan, Carro, Ellerin, and Smith, J.J. Gabriel Cotorreal, defendant’s 13-year-old brother, testified that defendant was left-handed and used his left hand to write, eat, and throw. Felix Klein, a graphologist, also testified on behalf of defendant, stating that based upon tests administered to defendant, he determined that defendant would use his left hand to fire a gun. This testimony went largely unrefuted, although police officer, Joseph Alemeda, an instructor in marksmanship, testified that some people shoot with their right hand despite being left handed in other respects.
(1991), Vista Municipal Court, Vista, CA, Traffic Court. Client-Defendant Scott E. Hawkins, Client Attorney: William Bradford Saunders, Law Offices of the Public Defender of San Diego County, 400 S. Melrose Drive, Suite 200, Vista, CA 92083. Jude Susanne Knauf. Graphologist Paula Sassi. Graphologist testified that there were no indications of alcohol evident in the writing or the signature taken as a sample by the arresting officer the night of the traffic stop. A study, referenced in Huntington Hartford’s book, _You Are What You Write_, was used in the testimony. The defendant was acquitted.
*Report*: (1991), Vista Municipal Court, Vista, CA, Traffic Court. Client-Defendant: William A. Goldman, Client Attorney Michael Fremont, Attorney-at-Law, 701 Palomer Airport Road, Carlsbad, CA 92001. Judge: Harry Elias. Graphologist Paula Sassi. The Defendant had been stopped for drunk driving (alcohol). The Judge and prosecutor had heard of the earlier testimony and now called into issue what is known as the Kelly-Fry Decision. The Kelly-Fry Decision established that an Expert’s testimony must be based upon accepted, scientific, or otherwise established data. They were trying to establish that graphology does not meet this criterion. Because the arresting officer, in previous testimony, had stated that there was nothing wrong with the handwriting test, the attorney chose to withdraw the Graphologist as a witness before the judge stated his decision. (AHAF Conference June 1991 report)
(February 1994). U.S. District Court, Providence, RI, #93-069T. U.S. vs Domingo Baez. Judge Ernest C. Torres presiding. Prosecuting Attorney, Larry Gaynor, Assistant U.S. District Attorney. Defense attorney, Ernest Barone, 43 High Service Avenue, North Providence, RI 02911, phone 401/353-0510. Questioned Document Examiner, Pauline Patchis of Warwick, RI, testified as to the authorship of a signature. On cross examination from U.S. Assistant District Attorney, who asked Expert Witness Patchis if she could determine personality traits based on a person’s handwriting. Patchis responded, “Yes.” Defense Attorney E. i Barone on redirect asked Patchis to provide the personality characteristics observed in the questioned signatures and in the known signature. Patchis did so. No objections were forthcoming. Therefore interpretation of handwriting for personality assessment was accepted in Federal Court before a jury.