Dalhousie Law Journal


voiceprint technique, speaker indentification, legal and scientific controversy, admissible, corroborative identification


The use of the voiceprint technique of speaker indentification was first suggested in 1962 by a Mr. Lawrence Kersta who was at that time a worker at the Bell Research Laboratories in the United States of America. 1 Since that time, the technique has been subject to a great deal of legal and scientific controversy in the United States. The desire of the authors to write this article stems from the fact that very recently the technique has been considered twice by courts in Canada, albeit only at the trial level.2 In both cases expert opinion based on voiceprint analysis was held admissible at least insofar as it was corroborative of identification by ear. The authors' purpose in this article is to examine the technique, the scientific studies and criticisms of it, the U.S. appellate decision and Canadian case law to date; finally, we would like to put forward what we feel should be the course taken by a Canadian appellate court. It is perhaps obvious that speaker identification is often a crucial point in a modem criminal trial. If not, then consider the words of Detective Lieutenant Ernest W. Nash of the Voice Identification Unit of the Michigan State Police (and recently elected senator for Michigan), a recognized expert in the area of voiceprint analysis for speaker identification:

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