My colleague Colin Miller at EvidenceProf Blog outlines the interesting issues with evidence that might be used at the long-delayed R. Kelly trial:
Finally, prosecutors sought to have Cooper provide testimony in which she would compare the vein pattern of Kelly's hand with the hand of the man in the video. The judge ordered a Frye hearing to determine whether the "vein pattern comparison" test to be used by Cooper has general acceptance in the scientific community.
In a quick Westlaw search, I found no cases where experts did a "vein pattern comparison," but in a quick internet search, I found a site claiming that vein pattern recognition technology is gaining momentum as one of the fastest-growing technologies. Apparently, the technology has found "easy acceptance" in parts of Asia, where there is strong resistance in fingerprinting. In fact, some sources are claiming that vein recognition technology has an advantage over fingerprint systems because vein patterns are biometric characteristics that are not left behind unintentionally in every-day activities.
It will be fascinating to see how the Illinois judge resolves this issue under the Frye test, although I doubt that the vein pattern comparison test has the required general acceptance in the scientific community (Illinois is also considering the admissibility of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test under Frye). Based upon my brief research, however, I think that the vein pattern comparison might fare better under the Daubert test followed by federal courts and many state courts.
I also know nothing about vein pattern recognition, but I find the idea fascinating. It will be interesting to see how the judge rules in this case and to also see if this technique catches on in the US. Miller also identifies some other unusual evidence issues in the case, so go check out the whole post.