Genuine Tremor in Handwriting
vs. The Tremor of Fraud
Compiled by Jacqueline A. Joseph, CDE (Certified Document Examiner)
Download a pdf version of this document here.
“Though a man learns but little that he definitely can catalogue, there certainly is nothing more necessary to his continued intellectual development than this fixed habit of coming into mental contact with other minds.”
—Albert S. Osborn, “The Problem of Proof (1922)” and “Questioned Documents (1929)”
“Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a thousand years, has set in best order the results of their learning and wisdom. The men themselves were hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of interruption, fenced by etiquette; but the thought which they did not uncover to their bosom friends is here written out in transparent words to us, the strangers of another age.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet
“Each age has its crimes, with the corresponding protective measures, – all alike the product of the age’s conditions. In each age, crime takes advantage of conditions, and then society awakes and gradually overtakes crime by discovering new expedients.”
—John Wigmore, Dean of Northwestern University Law School. 1910
A commission was received to examine stolen bank documents. The fraudulent checks and deposit slips had handwritten letters and numbers exhibiting line tremor. The suspect writer’s denial of authorship was based on the fact that he had no recall whatsoever of executing the writing. He added, however, that if he did author the questioned documents, he was “in an altered state at the time” in order to explain his inability to recall the act of writing.
Several questions were raised:
- Was the observed tremor in the questioned writing and numbers genuine or fraudulent?”
- Does genuine tremor have a distinguishing pattern of movement that would be discernable from fraudulent tremor?
- What possible conditions (emotional, mental, physical, or environmental) would lead to a tremulous writing?
- Does tremor occur when an individual is under the influence, yet capable of negotiating written transactions without the ability to recall the act of writing?
- Is it possible to discern the difference between genuine and false tremulous writing?
Presented herein is the compilation of both general and focused research exploring tremor:
a. Observed hand tremor exhibited by the writer before and/or during the act of writing, and
b. Observed tremulous lines in the handwritten words and numbers.
In summary, it is difficult and mostly impossible, solely from handwriting indicators, to determine the exact cause of tremor. It may be possible in some cases to determine if writing style was intentionally altered.
A. The information derived from these articles does not equip one to give any kind of diagnosis.
B. Startling experimental results must be replicated many times and under varying conditions before considered anything more than interesting and tentative information for further investigation.
C. You are cautioned against assuming that any single finding automatically becomes a “law” of handwriting identification.
A. Although the total compiled here are of 52 articles, 13 books and 9 case citations, it cannot be claimed that this bibliography is complete. This is a selected bibliography. Other areas of consideration regarding tremor and handwriting require further pursuit.
B. Many of the works listed have extensive bibliographies to which the readers’ attention is also specifically directed.
C. Not all entries have annotations, but the absence of an annotation should not be taken as implying that the work has less value than annotated entries.
D. The author’s biographic footnote is contemporaneous to the date of publication.
E. Books and articles are listed separately. Articles are listed by topic. Entries are arranged alphabetically by journal title.
F. Most citations were drawn from “The QDE Index” by Marcel B. Matley of A & M Matley Handwriting Experts of California.
G. Some citations were selected from the private collections of the compiler and Marcel B. Matley.
H. Jan Tudor of JT Research and Marcel B. Matley of A&M Handwriting Experts served as research assistants. They searched the UCSF Medical Library and other academic libraries.
- A TREATISE ON DISPUTED HANDWRITING. William E. Hagan. Banks & Brothers, Albany, N.Y. 1894.
This is one of the fundamental and comprehensive works on writing habits as manifested in handwriting. Author discusses forgeries, disguised handwriting, and effect of age, disease and excitement on handwriting and signatures. Also discussed is the influence of pencil and ink writing.
- CAUSE AND CURE OF GENERAL WRITER’S CRAMP, THE. Marcel B. Matley. Handwriting Services of California, San Francisco, CA. 1997.
This is a monograph in the physiology of handwriting including basic anatomy, grip of the pen, grasp of the pen and graphic indicators of “tension” which may result in writer’s cramp. Although tremor is not specifically addressed, the document examiner’s understanding of this information is fundamental. Provides an excellent bibliography and illustrations.
- DRUGS AND HANDWRITING. Patricia Wellingham‑Jones. PWJ Publishing, Tehama, California. 1991.
Extensive list of how drugs affect handwriting. Illustrated.
- EVIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS. James V.P. Conway. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois. 1959.
Tremor is not specifically addressed but Conway speaks of a writer’s involuntary distortion, and ability to concoct a voluntary camouflage during the writing of request handwriting exemplars. No tremors illustrated.
- EXPERIMENTS WITH HANDWRITING. Robert Saudek. Reprinted by Books For Professionals, Sacramento, California. 1978.
The author conducted and recorded extensive and carefully controlled handwriting experiments. Saudek lays the most comprehensive fundamentals in experimental handwriting research. Fully illustrated.
- FORGERY DETECTION AND DEFENSE. Marcel B. Matley. Handwriting Services of California, San Francisco, 1986.
A complete guidebook for the legal professional explaining all types of forgeries and clues to suspicious handwriting.
- HEALTH AND HANDWRITING: AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF FORENSIC, LEGAL AND MED/PSYCH PERIODICAL LITERATURE. 3d Ed. Marcel B. Matley. Handwriting Services of California, San Francisco, 2000.
- HEALTH CLUES IN HANDWRITING. Rose Lajoie Toomey. Bay Port Press, National City, California. 1983.
25 clues explained and illustrated. Based on extensive research with physician cooperation.
- QUESTIONED DOCUMENTS. Albert S. Osborn. Nelson-Hall Co., Chicago, Illinois. 1929.
- LAW OF DISPUTED AND FORGED DOCUMENTS. J. Newton Baker, LL.M., J.D. The Michie Company, Charlottesville, Virginia. 1955.
- NORMAL TREMOR: A COMPARATIVE STUDY. Joel Brumlik, M.D., Ph.D. and Chong-Bun Yap, M.D.. Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Springfield, Illinois. 1970.
An attempt to define precisely what ”normal” is. Includes historical review, tables, and references.
Joel Brumlik, M.D., Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Neurology, Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois, Attending Physician, Chicago Wesley Memorial Hospital) and Chong-Bun Yap, M.D. (Assistant Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois, Consulting Physician, Weiss Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois)
- PROBLEM OF PROOF, THE. Albert S. Osborn. Nelson-Hall, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, 1926.
- SUSPECT DOCUMENTS. Wilson R. Harrison, M.Sc., Ph.D. Nelson-Hall Publishers, Chicago, Illinois. 1981.
Harrison devotes a section to tremor and poor line quality. Good illustrations of a) lifetime natural tremor, b) tremor observed in handwriting deterioration prior to health, c) deliberately introduced tremor to simulate old age, d) imitated tremor, and e) tremor due to ill health/senility.
- TREMOR. Rodger J. Elbel, M.D., Ph.D. and William C. Koller, M.D., Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
A comprehensive review of this book is listed in this bibliography. See item 2 in the Scientific Journals section. Included is a comprehensive list of over 800 citations in the bibliography.
Rodger J. Elbel, M.D., Ph.D. (Associate Professor, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine). William C. Koller, M.D., Ph.D. (Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurology, University of Kansas Medical Center).
- International Criminal Police Review. 282:241‑244, Nov. 1974. “Tremors: Forged or Genuine.” By Dewan K.S. Puri.
This is one of the most succinct discussions of genuine and fraudulent tremors. Considers tremor from illiteracy, old age, muscle atrophy, exercise or post-exercise, or from inside a moving vehicle. Compares this with forged tremor, which is usually due to nervousness or hesitation in the act of copying. Discusses wrong tremor and forced-hand handwriting. Illustrated.
K.S. Puri (Document Examiner and Criminologist, Patiala, India).
- International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners. 1:75‑77. 1995. “A New Tremor in Handwriting.” Book Review. By Brian B. Carney.
Review of the book, Tremor (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990) by Rodger J. Elble and William C. Koller represents a useful reference source in understanding this difficult subject as it relates to handwriting examinations. Includes important definitions and differences between essential tremor (ET) and that of Parkinson’s, and other tremors of interest to document examiners. Emphasizes the examiner’s need for accurate knowledge of individual physical conditions as it relates to handwriting. Illustrated showing pronated forearm and exaggerated extension and flexion of wrists and fingers, making pen holding difficult.
Brian B. Carney (Carney & Hammond Forensic Document Laboratory, Norcross, Georgia). Rodger J. Elbel, M.D., Ph.D. (Associate Professor, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine). William C. Koller, M.D., Ph.D. (Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurology, University of Kansas Medical Center).
DRUGS AND MEDICATIONS
Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal. 20:119‑138. Dec. 1987. “The Effect of Medication on Handwriting.” By C. Gilmour and J. Bradford.
The purpose of this study was to determine the nature and extent of any influence neuroleptic (major tranquilizers) or antipsychotic drug treatments had on handwriting of patients undergoing treatment for schizophrenia. Two conclusions were drawn from handwriting examination. First, in 80% sampled handwritings, individual characteristics were not affected by drug treatments. Second, in some patients, size and uniformity of handwriting was affected as drug treatment progressed. Appendix A describes how the samples were taken. Appendix B defines the 11 medications as generally being pseudoparkinsonism (lack of muscular control resulting in tremor) and describes the adverse effects of each. Common dosages are also listed. Generally from this study, neuroleptic drug treatments produced more changes in individual handwriting. The nature and extent to which these changes occurred were found to be quite variable among subjects. Thus, the effect of drugs on handwriting is dependent on type of drug administered, individual sensitivity to it, and the points at which handwriting is sampled during drug treatment. Many clear and informative illustrations plus detailed descriptions of results are included.
C. Gilmour (Document Examiner, Central Forensic Laboratory, R.C.M. Police, Ottawa, Canada). J. Bradford (Forensic Psychiatrist, Royal Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Canada).
- Journal of Forensic Sciences. 10:335‑346, July 1965. “Effects of Drugs on Handwriting.” By David J. Purtell.
This excellent article discusses a study of tremor and motor function in regard to one’s occupation, literacy level, and unfamiliarity with the material. Research findings concern effects of the hallucinogenic drugs, range of impairment in individual handwriting as the result of sickness or injury, effects of muscle relaxant drugs, ranges of intoxication from the consumption of alcohol and finally, narcotic addiction. In conclusion, the article stresses the importance of proper exemplars, and the fact that deteriorated handwriting, exhibiting a marked loss in muscular control still possesses a certain consistency that will be lacking in a forgery. Excellent bibliography and many clear illustrations of handwriting tremors.
D.J. Purtell (Chicago Police Department Crime Laboratory, Chicago, Illinois).
- Journal of Psychology. 41:11-22. 1956. “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD-25): XVII. Effects of LSD-25 and Six Related Drugs Upon Handwriting.” By M.W. Hirsch, M.E. Jarvik, and H.A. Abramson.
- Movement Disorders. 11:250-256, 1996. “A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study to Evaluate Botulinum Toxin Type A in Essential Hand Tremor.” By J. Jankovic, K. Schwartz, W. Clemence, A. Aswad, and J. Mordaunt.
A report on a study of 25 patients with moderate to severe hand tremor who received botulinum toxin injected into the wrist. Tables.
J. Jankovic, K. Schwartz, and W. Clemence (Department of Neurology, Parkinson’s Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas). A. Aswad and J. Mordaunt (Allergan, Inc., Irvine, California).
INTOXICATION AND HANDWRITING
- Journal of Clinical Psychology. 9:284-287, 1953. “The Effects of Alcohol on Handwriting.” By Albert Rabin and Harry Blair.
- Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science. 56:372‑374, 1965. “Effects of Intoxication on Handwriting.” By K.S. Puri.
Discusses in general the physiological and psychological effects of alcohol on writing. Also points out what might determine intoxicated handwriting. One illustration.
K.S. Puri (Document Examiner and Criminologist, Patiala, India).
- Journal of The National Association of Document Examiners. 22:3-9, Spring 1999. “Handwriting and Alcohol.” By Beryl Gilbertson, M.A., C.Crim.
This paper points out the difficulty of explaining the reasons for an expert opinion that a writing shows effects of alcohol intoxication or withdrawal, and the lack of adequate information available within the forensic literature. It discusses major aspects of physiological dysfunction which occur as a function of alcohol ingestion and how these can be related to recognized disturbances of handwriting. It suggests that supporting evidence from the scientific disciplines, which is easily obtainable, can be applied in court to answer the question: “How do you support your findings?” Illustrated. Excellent bibliography.
Beryl Gilbertson, M.A., C.Crim. A multidisciplinary investigator of normal and abnormal handwriting since 1978. (Toronto, Canada).
10. International Criminal Police Review. 408:9‑20, Sept. Oct. 1987. “Handwriting and Exogenous Intoxication.” By A. Buquet and M. Rudler.
Addresses the difficulty of differentiating between shaky handwriting and handwriting which is jerky, twisted, or inhibited. Discusses how to distinguish these among various motor disorders as well as what might occur due to smoking, caffeine ingestion, and alcohol. An overview of principal toxic tremors including alcohol, heavy metals, fungi, pharmaceuticals, and illicit drugs is included. Copiously illustrated.
A. Buquet (Doctor of Science, Cour de Cassation in Paris and Vice-Chairman, French Forensic Chemists’ Association). M. Rudler (Director, Forensic Medicine Teaching and Research Unit at the University of Paris, Director, Toxicology Laboratory of the Paris Prefecture of Police Forensic Science Laboratory, Cour de Cassation, Paris).
11. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 9:227-236, 1959. “Effects of Alcohol on the Graphomotor Performances of Normals and Chronic Alcoholics.” By Clarence A. Tripp, Fritz A. Fluckiger, and George H. Weinberg.
12. Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences Journal. 19:103‑139, June 1986. “Regression and/or Attempted Simulation of Handwriting by Hypnosis.” By A. Blueschke.
Report on a study whose purpose was to examine the effects of hypnosis on handwriting. The study compared samples written in a normal state of consciousness to those written at various stages of hypnosis. The question was to determine whether or not a forged signature can be identified from a hypnotized subject. 26 subjects were hypnotized and asked to write a forgery of a model signature. The data obtained in this research indicate that the ability to simulate a given model signature under hypnosis is not greater than that in the normal non-hypnotic state. Copious illustrations comparing normal handwriting with handwriting produced under hypnosis are included.
A. Blueschke (RCMP Forensic Laboratory, Vancouver, B.C).
13. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 32:1118‑1124, July 1987. “Triazolam, Handwriting and Amnestic States.” By Deborah E. Boatwright.
An individual signing a document may have no recollection of the act of writing. Discussed in this paper are two cases in which writing was one of the reported activities involved during state of amnesia. The first case compares actual handwriting samples made during amnesia with handwriting written by the same person two days later. The main variation is observed in indications of speed. The second case discusses a person who combines drugs and alcohol who may not recall deviant behavior that occurred while under the influence. The results state that Triazolam appears to cause no apparent change in handwriting. But, the individual under the influence is capable of negotiating transactions without retaining memory of the transaction. Fully illustrated. Good bibliography.
D.E. Boatwright (Assistant Clinical Professor, School of Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco, California).
14. American Bar Association Journal. 45:931‑934, September 1959. “Mental Disorders: Their Effects Upon Handwriting.” By Hanna F. Sulner.
Discusses not only genuineness of a signature, but that handwriting analysis can perhaps determine mental state or stability of the writer at the time of document execution. Considers the use of conscience-inhibiting drugs, signing under stress, and even writing during hypnosis.
H.F. Sulner (Questioned Document Examiner trained in Hungary, has examined documents for various international organizations).
15. American Journal of Psychiatry. 97:102-135. 1940. “Dynamic Disturbances in the Handwriting of Psychotics: With Reference to Schizophrenic, Paranoid and Manic-Depressive Psychosis.” By Thea Stein Lewinson.
16. Forensic Science International. 46:55‑61, 1990. “Graphic Test as a Method for Estimation of Testator’s Psycho‑physical Condition.” By Marek Legien.
Considers three cases wherein the signature on a will was disputed in court. Examines how signatures offer material evidence of the signor’s psychic and physical condition. Illustrated.
M. Legien (Institute of Forensic Medicine, Silesian Medical Academy, Katowice, Poland).
17. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association. 8:13-14, 1953. “Evaluation of Schizophrenic Writings: Before, During, and After Electroshock Treatments.” By Anita M. Mühl, M.D., F.A.C.P.
18. Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science. 7:284‑287, July 1916. “Handwriting from a Psychopathic Viewpoint.” By Webster A. Melcher.
A general exhortation to analyze handwriting from the standpoint of the mental and physical condition of the writer.
W.A. Webster (Member, Bar of Pennsylvania, Examiner of Questioned Documents. Author of Questioned Ink Marks).
19. Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science. 11:209‑216, 1920. “Dual‑personality in Handwriting.” By Webster A. Melcher.
Examines how certain mental or physical states produce very different handwriting prompted by ”another” personality due to menses, alcohol, or other situations wherein strong physical or mental passions are aroused. Discusses the case of a woman who, during her menses, suffered abnormal mental and nervous conditions and wrote threatening letters.
W.A. Webster (Member, Bar of Pennsylvania, Examiner of Questioned Documents. Author of Questioned Ink Marks).
20. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders. 130:53-61. 1964. “Temporal Change in Handwriting Expansiveness in Depressed and Schizophrenic Inpatients.” By Jerome Goodman, M.D., Robert W. Downing, Ph.D., and Karl Rickels, M.D.
A report on a study comparing handwriting of a control group of 12 males and 13 females with handwriting of a depressed group and a schizophrenic group before and after treatment with medications. Tables and illustrations.
J. Goodman (Department of Psychiatry, Columbia). Drs. Downing and Rickels (University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia).
21. Neuropsychologia. 10:343-353. 1972. “Writing Disturbances in Acute Confusional States.” By François Chédru and Norman Geschwind.
Studies of the writing ability in 34 acutely confused patients were conducted and compared to those of 10 controls, and also to the subjects’ performance after recovery from confusion. The problem of pure agraphia is also discussed. Tables and illustrations.
F. Chédru (Neurological Unit, Boston City Hospital, Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School). N. Geschwind (Aphasia Research Center, Department of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine).
22. Acta Psychologica. 65:47-64, 1987. “Functions of Vision in the Control of Handwriting.” By Mary M. Smyth and Gil Silvers.
23. Acta Psychologica. 75:201-212, 1990. “The Independence of Horizontal and Vertical Dimensions in Handwriting With and Without Vision.” By Allen W. Burton, Herbert L. Pick, Jr. Claire Holmes, and Hans-Leo Teulings.
24. Acta Psychologica. 81:269-286. 1992. “The Role of Vision in the Temporal and Spatial Control of Handwriting.” By Robert R.A. van Doorn and Paul J.G. Keuss.
25. Defense Law Journal. 10:121‑126, 1961. “(A)droit Use Made of Handwriting Expert to Establish Tremors in Plaintiff’s Handwriting Prior to Accident.” By Anonymous.
This is an account of an actual trial and the review of questioned document examiner’s testimony. It is an abstract from a defense attorney’s point of view to determine if injuries sustained by the plaintiff were a result of an accident or not. A handwriting expert examined signatures before and after the accident and showed the plaintiff’s physical condition existed both before and after the accident. This determination was made using observations of a tremor pattern. Not illustrated. No bibliography.
See case law: Appellate Court Decision. Thompson v. The New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad Company. No 58C15890, Circuit Court of Cook County, (Chicago) Illinois.
26. Forensic Science. 9:161‑172, May‑June 1977. “Influence of Age and Illness on Handwriting Identification Problems.” By Ordway Hilton.
An excellent article by one of the well-known authorities in the field of questioned document examination. Considers the deterioration of handwriting due to more extreme effects of illness and age. Also discussed is the temporary influence of certain medications that would cause tremor to “disappear” then reappear when the medication is discontinued or improperly administered. A complete discussion of aging as it relates to handwriting variations in the elderly noting periods of recovery in the aging process versus periods of decline. When writing exemplars are arranged chronologically, there can be occasional small groups of signatures within the assembled whole which show improvement compared with those immediately before or after. The elderly whose physical strength is declining are known to have “good days” and “good hours” during a particular day, so it is not surprising that their writing reveals such variations. However, forged signatures are detected by observations of elements of the signature that are beyond the capacity of the writer in this point of life. Many excellent illustrations chronologically compare deteriorating signatures of the elderly written before, during, and after changes in health and medications.
O. Hilton (Examiner of Questioned Documents, New York City).
27. Journal of Forensic Document Examination. 5:55‑63, Fall 1992. “A Study of Dating Multiple Sclerosis Onset by Handwriting.” By Ann Hooten.
This report discusses whether or not a date could be established as to when the handwriting of a multiple sclerosis patient exhibited changes in muscular control. Method and findings are detailed along with illustrations covering the patient’s writing from 1938 to 1980. The examiner was able to note when symptoms of loss of muscle control first appeared in handwriting. Illustrations.
A. Hooten (Document Examiner in private practice in Minneapolis and Florida).
28. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 14:157-166, April 1969. “Consideration of the Writer’s Health in Identifying Signatures and Detecting Forgery.” By Ordway Hilton, M.A.
Discusses salient characteristics of handwriting and signatures during illness as well as deathbed signatures and assisted signatures. Includes discussion of the influence of medication on handwriting. Illustrated.
29. Journal of Mental Sciences. 93:68-81, 1947. “The Nature and Treatment of ‘Writer’s Cramp’.” By M. Narsimha Pai, M.B., B.S., M.R.C.P., D.C.H., D.P.H., D.T.M., D.P.M.
Article is based on a study of 1,880 patients suffering from neuropsychiatric symptoms and “cramping” of the hand. Discusses tremulous or wavy writing disturbance, spastic form or genuine cramp, and the ataxic or jerky form. Illustrated.
M. Narasimha Pai (Psychiatrist, Mill Hill Emergency (Maudsley) Hospital, and Sutton Emergency Hospital).
30. Journal of Police Science and Administration. 15:51‑55, March 1987. “Forensic Examination of Arthritic Impaired Writings.” By Larry S. Miller.
A study of 42 arthritic patients and how their writing varied during an episode. If the individual signed a document during an intermittent episode, and the examiner has only “normal” known signatures with which to compare, the opinion may be erroneously given as “forgery.” Includes a review of the protocol for procedures in collecting and requesting sufficient exemplars. Alerts the examiner that limited standards may be available from an arthritic writer who is otherwise reluctant to produce handwriting during an episode when it is too painful to write. One table shows results with major differences noted. Excellent bibliography.
L.S. Miller (Associate Professor, Department of Criminal Justice, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee).
31. Movement Disorders. 10:622-629. 1995. “Role of Peripheral Inputs in Cerebellar Tremor.” By M.S. Dash.
Tremors in nine right-handed male patients with right-sided cerebellar lesions were studied by reversibly blocking peripheral input from the hand. Tables and illustrations.
M.S. Dash (Regional Medical Research Centre, Indian Council of Medical Research, Chandrasekharpur, Bhubanewar, India).
32. Movement Disorders. 11:289-297, 1996. “Computational Analysis of Open Loop Handwriting Movements in Parkinson’s Disease: A Rapid Method to Detect Dopamimetic Effects.” By T.E. Eichhorn, T. Gasser, N. Mai, C. Marquardt, G. Arnold, J. Schwarz, and W.H. Oertel.
A study to determine a computational analysis and clinical rating scale for monitoring the effect of apomorphine in 16 patients with early untreated parkinsonism. Tables, charts and an excellent bibliography.
T.E. Eichhorn, T. Gasser, N. Mai, G. Arnold, J. Schwarz, and W.H. Oertel (Department of Neurology, Clinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich). C. Marquardt (EKN, Stadtisches Krankenhaus, Munich-Bogenhausen, Germany).
33. Movement Disorders. 12:798-806. 1997. “Tremor in Latin Texts of Dutch Physicians: 16th-18th Centuries.” By Peter J. Koehler and Antoine Keyser.
The history of tremor through the 16th and 17th centuries with emphasis on the distinction between action tremor and rest tremor. Illustrated.
P.J. Koehler (Department of Neurology, at De Wever Hospital, Heerlen, The Netherlands). Antoine Keyser (Department of Neurology at the Academic Hospital, University of Nijmegen, Mijemgen, The Netherlands).
34. Psychosomatic Medicine. 11:354-360, 1946. “Handwriting in Rheumatoid Arthritics.” By Louis A. Gottschalk, M.D., Herman M. Serota, Ph.D., M.D., and Klara Goldzieher Roman.
35. Annals of Neurology. 11:434, April 1982. “Brush Writing in Patients with Tremor.” By Masahiro Nomoto, M.D. and Akihiro Igata, M.D.
Improvement of handwriting in those with essential tremor improved with a Japanese “fude” or brush pen similar to a felt-tipped pen. Illustrated.
Masahiro Nomoto, M.D. and Akihiro Igata, M.D. (Third Department of Internal Medicine, Kagoshima University, Faculty of Medicine, Kagoshima, Japan).
36. Brain. 118:1461-1472, 1995. “Primary Writing Tremor.” By P.G. Bain, L.J. Findley, T.C. Britton, J.C. Rothwell, M.A. Gresty, P.D. Thompson, and C.D. Marsden.
Primary writing tremor (PWT) is a task-specific tremor in which tremor interferes with handwriting. This article describes clinical and neurophysiological features of 21 patients with PWT. Differences between PWT and both writer’s cramp and essential tremor are determined. Tables and an excellent bibliography.
P.G. Bain, L.J. Findley, T.C. Britton, J.C. Rothwell, M.A. Gresty, P.D. Thompson and C.D. Marsden (MRC Human Movement and Balance Unit, Institute of Neurology, London). L.J. Findley (Regional Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Havering Hospital Trust, Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, United Kingdom).
37. Journal of Neuroscience Methods. 32:193-198, 1990. “Quantification of Tremor with a Digitizing Tablet.” By Rodger J. Elble, Raj Sinha, and Christopher Higgins.
To clinically assess tremor, handwriting and drawing are often employed. Before now these tasks were quantified by subjective rating schemes that failed to provide precise measure of the amplitude and frequency of tremor. A commercially available digitizing tablet and personal computer can now be used to reliably record any pathologic tremor induced by writing or drawing. Digitizing tablets however lack the sensitivity to measure physiologic tremor. Illustrated.
Rodger J. Elble, Raj Sinha, and Christopher Higgins (Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois).
38. Movement Disorders. 11:70-78, 1996. “Quantification of Essential Tremor in Writing and Drawing.” By Rodger J. Elble, Mikhail Brilliant, Keith Leffler, and Constance Higgins.
Report on a study of 87 patients with essential tremor who wrote on a digitizing table. 40 patients also drew on an Archimedes spiral. Postural wrist tremor was measured. Concludes that the digitizing table is a useful and inexpensive tool for clinical and physiological studies of pathologic writing and drawing tremor.
Rodger J. Elble, Mikhail Brilliant, Keith Leffler, and Constance Higgins (Department of Neurology and the Center for Alzheimer Disease and Related Disorders, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois).
39. Movement Disorders. 11:665-670. 1996. “Focal Task-Specific Disorders.” By Valerie L. Soland, Kailash P. Bhatia, Maria A. Volonte, and C. David Marsden.
Presents nine cases of focal tremor induced by various specific tasks involving frequent and repetitive movement. These tremors may be forms of focal dystonia, rather than a manifestation of essential tremor. One table.
Valerie L. Soland, Kailash P. Bhatia, Maria A. Volonte, and C. David Marsden (University Department of Clinical Neurology, Institute of Neurology, London, England). M.A. Volonte (Department of Neurology, Instituta Scientifica S. Raffaele, Milan, Italy).
40. Neurology. 32:203-206, February 1982. “Primary writing tremor: A selective action tremor.” By Harold L. Lawans, M.D., Russell Glantz, M.D., Caroline M. Tanner, M.D, and Christopher G. Goetz, M.D.
Six patients with progressive difficulty in writing due to jerking movements precipitated by the act of writing are discussed. Tables and illustrations.
“It is by no means a simple task to write in other than a normal hand, so that [the document examiner] can expect to find disguised handwriting only when there is ample justification for the extra labour involved.”
—Wilson R. Harrison, M.Sc., Ph.D. in “The Disguised Hand.” 1962
SIGNATURE AND HANDWRITING DISGUISE
41. Criminal Law Review, The. 751‑769, 1962. “The Disguised Hand.” By Wilson R. Harrison, M.SC., Ph.D.
Reviews four occurrences of disguise in handwriting when disguise can be expected. Gives eight principles applicable to recognition of disguise. Discusses a court case of embezzlement and disguised handwriting by giving specifics of the case as well as more popular methods for handwriting disguise. Illustrated with many case specimens.
W.R. Harrison (Director, Home Office Forensic Science Laboratory, Cardiff, Wales).
42. Journal of Experimental Education. 14:297-316, 1946. “Factors Affecting the Legibility of Handwriting.” By Leslie Quant
43. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 15:476‑488, October 1970. “Disguised Handwriting–A Statistical Survey of How Handwriting is Most Frequently Disguised.” By Edwin F. Alford, Jr.
A study designed and conducted to statistically reveal and analyze common methods and elements of disguise. 135 persons were studied, and it was concluded that elements most often changed were those most drastically affecting the pictorial appearance of the handwriting.
Discusses how most writers attempting to disguise their handwriting do so using simple methods. The article discusses the prevalence of certain methods: slope, awkward hand, hand-printing, size, arrangement, angularity, spacing, spelling, approach strokes, terminal strokes, upper and lower extensions, capital letters, ”i” dot or period, numbers, and more. This study reveals that most attempts to disguise are neither consistent nor successful.
Illustrated with before and after writing of same writer writing the same sentence. Shows what changed and what remained unchanged. No bibliography.
E.F. Alford (Crime Laboratory, Post Office Department, Washington, D.C.)
44. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 23:149‑154, January 1978. “The Question of Disguise in Handwriting.” By F.E. Webb, M.A.
Discusses identification of disguise in handwriting, which is fully dependent upon the quality and comparability of exemplars and the expertise of the examiner. Discusses the importance of request specimens and problems of obtaining handwriting specimens relative to court-ordered exemplars. Elements of disguise are listed but tremor per se is not included. Also briefly discussed are court rulings and references to cases related to handwriting disguise, and a landmark case dealing with intentional disguise.
F.E. Webb (Forensic Scientist-Document Examiner, Commonwealth of Virginia, Bureau of Forensic Science, Northern Virginia Regional Laboratory in Merrifield, Virginia).
45. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 33:727‑733, May 1988. “Disguised Writing: Chronic or Acute.” By Frankie E. Franck, M.F.S.
This article offers good definitions of disguised handwriting from noted authorities such as J. J. Harris, O. Hilton, and W. R. Harrison. Notates and discusses admissibility of testimony re: spoliation of evidence. Disguised writing is sub-classified into acute (occuring predominantly in the taking of request specimen writings), and chronic (writing disguised from the outset — planned, premeditated, continuing, constant, and prolonged disguise). Two cases are presented and evaluated with specimen illustrations. References to 9 other studies regarding chronic disguise are given.
Illustrated. Shows before and after writing of 2 subjects. Excellent bibliography.
F.E. Franck (Assistant Director of the Crime Laboratory, U.S. Postal Service in San Bruno, California).
46. Journal of the Forensic Science Society. 26:257‑266,1986. “Signature Disguise or Signature Forgery?” By A. Herkt.
Evaluation of a body of controlled data on likely methods of producing disguised and forged signatures. Data was gathered from 144 subjects (police officers) to show both disguised and attempted forgery of model signatures. Results showed 72% of subjects altered capital letters, 65% added or deleted initial or terminal strokes, 54% wrote with more care or more carelessly, and 41% wrote more slowly. Good illustrations.
A. Herkt (Document Examination Section, New Zealand Police National Headquarters, Wellington, New Zealand).
47. Journal of Forensic Document Examination. 51-56, Fall 1994. “Changes in Arm and Hand Position in Writing.” By Patricia Wellington-Jones, Ph.D.
30 subjects were put to the test of changing their hand and arm positions. Concludes that it is possible to identify specific changes when certain positions are used. Illustrated.
P. Wellington-Jones (Faculty Mentor, Columbia Pacific University, California).
48. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 13:376‑389, July 1968. “Opposite‑Hand Writings.” By Gordon R. Stangohr.
Considers the variables of a left-handed person writing with the right-hand, as there are certain left-handed tendencies that are largely contrary to those found in the writing of right-hand writers. Observations of the study include how to ascertain to what extent various determining characteristics of left-handedness occur and how much reliance can be placed upon them. Discusses pen and hand positions used by left-handed writers. Illustrated.
G.R. Stangohr (Identification Laboratory, Post Office Department, Washington, D.C.)
49. Journal of Forensic Sciences. “Illusions of Tracing.” 27:186-191. January 1982. By T.W. Vastrick, B.S.
Sometimes phenomena occur in handwriting that gives an item the illusion of having been traced. This paper discusses these various illusions of tracing through case studies that include diffusion of ink components viewed under infrared luminescence, “sister” lines, rough writing surfaces, writing machines, and plastic lamination. Illustrations.
T.W. Vastrick (Document Analyst, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Crime Laboratory, Memphis, Tennessee).
REQUESTED HANDWRITING EXEMPLARS
50. International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners. 3:45‑48. Jan/Mar 1997. “The History and Development of Laws Compelling Suspects to Provide Handwriting Exemplars: A Look Into Federal, State and Military Courts.” By Derek L. Hammond.
51. Ibid. 3:103. April/June 1997. “Letters to the Editor” By Marcel B. Matley. (Case law re: people required to write while on witness stand.)
52. Journal of The National Association of Document Examiners. 21:1-5, Spring 1998. “The Making of One’s Own Exemplars: The Post Litem Motam Rule as Illustrated by California.” By Marcel B. Matley
CASE LAW CITATIONS
- Brien v. Davidson et al., 225 IA 595, 281 NW 150, rehearing denied 225 IA 595, 282 NW 480 (1938)
Document expert should give satisfactory reasons for opinion. (It was a battle of experts with three on each side.) If he does, it becomes “the duty of the court to examine into and analyze those reasons, and determine the correctness or incorrectness of the opinion, and not simply consider the conclusion of the witness alone.”
Handwriting experts relied on shading, line quality, tremor and many other details. Photographs of signatures admissible exhibits. Court notes that exact duplication is evidence of tracing.
- Cameron v. Knapp, 520 NYS2 917 (Sup Ct NY Cty 1987)
Expert testified from that tremor in handwriting made at the time of surgery by the eye surgeon showed, what else, a shaky hand. The appeal judge said no precedent for handwriting expert to testify about mental or physical condition from handwriting. NOTE: Trial judge was simply wrong. Plaintiff attorney must have done a poor job of points and authorities and expert did not know case law and writings in field of QD as well as in medical and psychological literature.
Judge required a Frye type test for admissibility; but added could do it also through judicial opinion, legal writings or expert opinion other than preferred expert. The expert could prove primary tremor in writing and fact finder then could logically conclude that same tremor could be present in other fine motor movements of the hand, such as eye surgery.
- Cline, In re Estate of, Appeal of Hudak, 433 PA 543, 252 A2 657 (PA 1969)
Expert evidence did not overcome that of daughter who inherited by will which she admitted writing and which did not mention other daughter. Proponent and one of decedent’s sisters testified that he and another sister signed the will as witnesses.
At page 659 contestant, a banker and an attorney who were familiar with decedent’s signature all testified to falsity. Expert M.A. Nuremberg testified to falsity “mainly because the signature was written smoothly and the decedent was a person who could not sign his name in that fashion.”
At page 660, footnote 2, quoting from chancellor: “The expert had no knowledge of how the standard signatures were made. He had no knowledge of whether the disputed document was signed while the writer was seated, standing or on what surface the document rested when signed. The standards differed so greatly among them alone, that it was almost impossible to determine what was the usual manner of signing the decedent’s name.
“Contestant’s Exhibit ‘C’ * * * is almost a carbon copy of the signature on the will, allowing for some tremors due to the age of the decedent. It shows that the decedent could sign his name plainly and smoothly when he tried * *
- Fellows v. Fellows, 220 LA 407, 56 S2 733 (1951)
“In will contest, evidence sustained finding that purported will was forgery and null and void.”
At page 734: One of two legatees appeared for plaintiff and contestant and testified will not in handwriting of decedent.
At 736 trial court is quoted: “One can readily see that, at the top of the paper or at the beginning of the purported will, the lines are wider apart and gradually grow closer together toward the bottom of the paper. This leads one to believe that the paper was the same size before the will was written as it is at the present.” Defendant had testified the will was written in a book, torn out and then torn to present size. Other details of defendant’s purported story of how will was written were contrary to business habits of decedent and to reason.
“There were three so-called expert witnesses who testified in this case>’ George H. Lacy impressed the trial court very favorably. S.F. Von Aaron, 82 years old, called for defendant. He was not as well qualified. Mr. Ira N. Gullickson also called by defendant. At 737: “His testimony, however, was more in the nature of a narrative on the general science of examining questioned documents, including handwriting, and particularly the handwriting constituting the will in question. A close observation of his testimony under cross examination will show contradictions to his testimony given on direct examination.” He explained tremor in disputed signature as a hangover, but decedent was proven to be off alcohol at that time and had no health condition to cause tremor.
Trial court made its own comparative examination and found no similarity. At 737-8 expert is quoted as to sufficient number and combination of similarities for identification and dissimilarities not reasonably explained for non-identification. Defendant expert reasoned that the dissimilarities proved genuineness because the object of forgery is to make it as similar as possible. The court noted: “(I)t assumes that in the perpetration of a forgery the forger always has before him or is thoroughly familiar with the genuine handwriting of the person sought to be defrauded.”
At 738-747 dissenting opinion. At 743 a bit of Lacy’s background given; one of some 13 members of ASQDE! Dissenting opinion says capital D’s are same and that Lacy’s reasons were both logical and illogical. Gullickson’s background given at 744.
At 748-750 “On rehearing” which was granted because trial judge had made inaccurate statements. The court sustained earlier finding that will was null. Examining will and exemplars again, court finds said decedent had not drunk the night of that day, some ten hours later, nor was nervous.
- Leddy, Matter of Elizabeth, 46 NY Law J, No. 87, Jan. 16, 1912)
Mark on will was firm and without tremor. Decedent was old and ill and died fourteen hours later. Exemplars were tremulous. Surrogate made his own observations without expert testimony.
- Oliver’s Will, Matter of, 126 Misc. 511. 214 NYS 154 (1926)
Questioned signature lacked tremor and other qualities expected in alcoholic’s writing.
Unnatural story of finding of will helped impeach eye witness.
Court remarks on silent witness of demonstrative facts in the writing. “Silent circumstances without power to change their attitude, or make explanations, or to commit perjury, speak more powerfully and truthfully in court than animate witness.”
- People v. Ward, 307 NY 73.
Note written while in prison showed defendant was not inebriated, since it was legible, properly spelled, without tremor, etc.
- People v. Yu, 564 NY S2 300 NY Ap Div Lexis 11725 (1990)
Case of forgery of Chinese man’s signature in English and Chinese characters. Gregory McNally and Richard Picciochi were prosecution experts and James J. Horan defense expert, though he is not mentioned. Conviction was upheld. Prosecution experts did not know Chinese.
An article said they obtained writing of the Chinese name by other Chinese as exemplars to determine falsity, but report does not say that.
Simulation was shown by blunt pen strokes, pen pressure, tremor, speed and types of strokes…
- Robinson v. Harmon, 157 NE2 749 (OH Ap 1958)
Tremor in handwriting can show infirmities of age only.
“A guided or assisted signature is nevertheless valid if the will of the testator is thereby expressed.”
Alford, Jr., Edwin F. 43
Bain, P.G., et al. 36
Baker, J. Newton, LL.M., J.D. IX
Blueschke, A. 12
Boatwright, Deborah E., B.S. 13
Brumlik, Joel, M.D., Ph.D. X
Buquet A., et al. 10
Burton, Allen W., et al. 23
Carney, Brian B. 2
Chédru, François, et al. 21
Conway, James V.P. IV
Dash, M.S. 31
Eichhorn, T.E., et al. 32
Elble, Rodger J. 37, 38, XIII
Franck, Frankie E., M.F.S. 45
Gilbertson, Beryl, M.A., C.Crim. 9
Gilmour, C., et al. 3
Goodman, Jerome, M.D., et al. 20
Gottschalk, Louis A., M.D. 34
Hagan, William E. I
Hammond, Derek L. 50
Harrison, Wilson R. 41, XII
Herkt, A. 46
Hilton, Ordway. 26, 28
Hirsch, M.W., Jarvik, et al. 5
Hooten, Anne. 27
Jankovic, J., et al. 6
Klawans, Harold L., M.D. 40
Koehler, Peter J., et al. 33
Lawans, Harold L., et al.
Legien, Marek. 16
Lewinson, Thea Stein. 15
Matley, Marcel B. 51, 52, II, VI
Melcher, Webster A. 18, 19
Miller, Larry S. 30
Mühl, Anita M., M.D., F.A.C.P. 17
Nomoto, Masahiro, et al. 35
Osborn, Albert S. VIII, XI
Pai, Narsimha M. 29
Puri, K.S. 1, 8
Purtell, David J., Ph.B. 4
Quant, Leslie. 42
Rabin, Albert, et al. 7
Saudek, Robert. V
Smyth, Mary M., et al. 22
Soland, Valerie, L. 39
Stangohr, Gordon R. 48
Sulner, Hanna F. 14
Toomey, Rose LaJoie. VII
Tripp, Clarence A. 11
van Doorn, R.A., et al. 24
Vastrick, W., B.S. 49
Webb, F.E., M.A. 44
Wellington-Jones, Patricia. 47, III
SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL INDEX
American Bar Association Journal
American Journal of Psychiatry
Annals of Neurology
Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences Journal
Criminal Law Review
Defense Law Journal
Forensic Science International
International Criminal Police Review
International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners
Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association
Journal of Clinical Psychology
Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science
Journal of Experimental Education
Journal of Forensic Document Examination
Journal of Forensic Sciences
Journal of the Forensic Science Society
Journal of Mental Sciences
Journal of The National Association of Document Examiners
Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders
Journal of Neuroscience Methods
Journal of Police Science and Administration
Journal of Psychology
Perceptual and Motor Skills