R. Brent Ostrum
Forensic document examination is the forensic science discipline pertaining to documents that are (or may be) in dispute in a court of law. The primary purpose of forensic document examination is to answer questions about a disputed document using a variety of scientific processes and methods. Many examinations involve a comparison of the questioned document, or components of the document, to a set of known standards. The most common type of examination involves handwriting wherein the examiner tries to address concerns about potential authorship.
A forensic document examiner (FDE) is often asked to determine if a questioned item originated from the same source as the known item(s), then present their opinion on the matter in court as an expert witness. Other common tasks include determining what has happened to a document, determining when a document was produced, or deciphering information on the document that has been obscured, obliterated or erased.