Law & Order (1990–2010)
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Myth of Fingerprints 

A fingerprint analyst's error put an innocent man in prison. Detectives discover that this may not have been the only error she has made in favor of prosecutors.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Lennie Briscoe
Ed Green
Anita Van Buren
Jack McCoy
Serena Southerlyn
Nora Lewin
Lisa Russo
Luke Campbell
Bobby Campbell
David Green ...
FBI Agent Foster
Detective Wade
Brenda Warren (as Stacey Leigh Ivey)
Glenn Edwards
Terry Fullmer
Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers


While investigating the murder of an ex-con leads to the revelation that a man who was convicted of a crime ten years ago might be innocent. And it turns out that Van Buren was the lead investigator. They eventually learn that the tech,who said that the fingerprints were that of the suspect, has been deliberately claiming prints sent to her for identification, were positive when in fact they were inconclusive. Written by

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Release Date:

14 November 2001 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Based on the case of Joyce Gilchrist, an Oklahoma City forensic chemist who was found to have falsified forensic evidence in order to help prosecutors obtain convictions, sending dozens of innocent men and women to prison, and leading to the execution of at least one man who was later fully exonerated. See more »


Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers states that "CSU found blood splatters on the television set...". It is "blood spatters", without an "l", for the noun form. However one would "splatter" blood (verb form) in an analysis to determine what type of force produced a blood spatter pattern. See more »


References The Myth of Fingerprints (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

A history of false IDs
20 October 2013 | by See all my reviews

The death of a man who nobody is going to mourn leads Jerry Orbach and Jesse Martin on the trail of a homicide of a case long solved. And the investigating officer was none other than S. Eptha Merkessen way back in her undercover days.

Turns out the deceased killed someone in the past and two people went to prison for that crime, one of whom was killed in the joint. The case rested on fingerprint identification and the woman in charge of the police lab, Diana Scarwid did the ID.

It was a false ID and as it turns out she's got a history of that. It will be quite a reach but DA Diane Weist has Sam Waterston charge Scarwid for the murder in prison.

What she did was irresponsible in the extreme. In her defense we learn that fingerprint IDs is not an exact science and one has a lot of latitude. It's also what makes careers for defense lawyers. And Scarwid sees it as her contribution to law and order.

A most thought provoking episode.

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