I wonder if Reed Hayes, credentialed handwriting expert, has ever been in this situation before. He’s produced a report for Mike Zullo1 that expresses an opinion on the authenticity of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate. I would think that in just about every other job Hayes has taken that his reports are either made public (as in testimony in court) or they are kept private, being only of interest to the parties involved in the controversy over a document. Has he ever before provided a report whose contents are characterized widely in public, but whose client tells him not to talk about it?
It did happen before: a respected document examiner in 2011 did a report on that same long-form birth certificate, its contents were characterized in public, and the folks doing the characterization (WorldNetDaily) refused to publish the actual report. In that case the examiner, Ivan Zatkovich, felt it necessary to publish the report himself because it was being mischaracterized and his conclusions distorted. You can read my 2011 article on this affair, “WND document expert says: not quite accurate.”
Conspiracy theorists try to prove things by asking open-ended questions and expect the reader come to a conclusion. What follows is a number of questions I have, but I do not expect the reader to come to a conclusion; in fact, I intend exactly the opposite. By posing these questions, I hope that the reader will recognize the difficulty of arriving at a conclusion.
- What does the Hayes Report say?
- Reed Hayes is certified as a forensic document examiner by the National Association of Document Examiners. Which if any of the forensic disciplines that fall under that certification was used by Hayes in arriving at his conclusions.2
- It is well-documented that the forensic disciplines involving pattern matching (handwriting, fingerprints, bite marks, etc.) are subject to bias when the expert is supplied additional information in advance about the case. What did Zullo say to Hayes in the way of additional information about the case before Hayes did an analysis? Did Zullo simply give Hayes copies of his discredited reports from his birther volunteers, and ask him to buy in to them, or did Hayes start with a fresh slate and do an independent analysis? In any case, it is unlikely that Hayes was unaware of the claims of the birthers. What was Hayes’ opinion of birthers before Zullo showed up?
- Are there available any other reports by Hayes in other cases? Has he ever testified in federal court, and if so, what case?
- It is generally acknowledged among handwriting experts, that reliable conclusions require examination of original documents not photocopies. How did Hayes get around this problem?
- It is reported by Zullo that Hayes is a registered Democrat. Apart from the fact that voters don’t register by party in Hawaii, did Hayes vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama? Conspiracy theorist and birther Phil Berg was a Democrat, but not an Obama supporter.
- What is meant by the statement reportedly by Hayes that the birth certificate is a 100% forgery? Hayes himself has said that handwriting analysis is only 80-90% accurate. Where does the 100% come from, and how certain does Hayes actually say that he is of his conclusions in his report. Finally, it would be interesting to know why Hayes took the case when reportedly over 200 of his colleagues turned it down.
If what Zullo says is true, and he has fairly characterized the Hayes Report, we may conclude that Reed Hayes has indeed gone over Niagara Falls in a leaky barrel, but there are just too many unanswered questions to jump to any conclusions just yet.
I realize that Reed Hayes has been asked by his client not to discuss the report, but I would welcome any comments from him on the generalities raised here. He can reply in comments or on the site’s contact form.
1I say “for Mike Zullo” as a matter of convenience. I do not actually know whether Hayes’ client was Mike Zullo, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Cold Case Posse, or some third party, and which of those claims a copyright on the report. Previously Zullo used Cold Case Posse work products in a book he published and received profits from.
2According to Zullo, the Hayes Report includes these words:
based on my observations and findings, it is clear that Certificate of Live Birth I examined is not a scan of an original paper birth certificate, but a digitally manufactured documented created by utilizing material from various sources.
That conclusion does not to seem to come from any of the forensic disciplines certified by the NADE. We have one independent source for what Hayes concluded from RealityCheck who reports an email he received from Hayes saying:
Thanks for inquiring about the Obama birth certificate. Yes, I did an examination and have concluded the birth certificate released by the White House is indeed fabricated.