When solving crimes, forensic scientists rely on fingerprints (the disappearance of which were a major part of the "Cooper Curse") because no two prints are alike. But what if someone was born WITHOUT finger prints? That would make them perfect candidates for a life of crime!

This is a genetic condition called adermatoglyphia. Researcher Eli Sprecher has studied a Swiss family where half the family members have the condition. Their palms, fingers, toes and foot soles are smooth, without the subtle ridges that others that the rest of us have. They also have fewer sweat glands on their hands and feet (so no foot odor to give them away if they’re hiding in your closet!)

In the August 9th edition of the New York Times, Sindya N. Bhanoo quotes Sprecher as saying that when a fingerprint is taken from someone with this condition, "instead of having a nice, regular pattern of concentric circles, you see a smear."

Some (lucky?) people’s hands may lie but the police think that witnesses’ eyes almost ALWAYS do, which is why the New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that traditional eyewitness identification "line-ups," so familiar to us from TV shows, can send innocent people to prison. In the August 29th edition of the New York Times, Erica Goode and John Schwartz quote eye witness expert psychologist Gary L. Wells as saying, "No court has ever taken this topic this seriously or put in this kind of effort." He expects that since a precedent has now been set, other courts will follow suit, and in November the US Supreme Court will debate up the question for the first time in over 30 years.

The writers quote Stephen Saloom, the policy director for the Innocence Project (which uses DNA to exonerate convicted criminals) as saying, "Every time you wrongfully convict an innocent person, you have failed to convict the real person, who will possibly go on to commit more crimes."

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