Orange County’s Fingerprint Expert Made Mistakes….Now What?

A fingerprinting expert for the Orange County Sherriff’s Department has been under internal investigation since October 2016, even though the State Attorney’s Office of Orange and Osceola County are just now finding out about it. An 18-year veteran fingerprinting expert, Marco Palacio, was said to be “sloppy” when performing his work and has been removed from his position.

Over the weekend, Employees at the Orange County Sherriff’s Department worked to identify cases in which Palacio was listed as a witness; by midday Monday, there were 2,640 –  of which 130 are still active cases. Now, the State Attorney’s Office is sending letters to Orlando-area defense attorneys informing them of the possibility of harm to their clients from fingerprinting mistakes made by Palacio. However, the State Attorney’s Office will not be determining whether anyone was wronging convicted or jailed because of possible error in fingerprinting analysis. That burden is shifted to the defense attorneys on those cases, whether from the Public Defender’s office or privately hired.

So, what does this mean? Defense Attorneys will have to go through each case and determine whether Palacio’s opinion was key to each affected client’s case. If so, they may find themselves back in court. Although fingerprints are only one piece of evidence that may be used in a criminal case, it could prove to be detrimental to cases in which fingerprints were mainly used.

For example, if you were convicted of burglary of a dwelling and the only evidence they used to place you in the residence where the burglary occurred was fingerprint evidence.  However, if they had other evidence such as eyewitness testimony, where a person identified you to secure your conviction, it would not benefit you to challenge the ruling.

If you believe the fingerprinting expert’s opinion put you or someone you know in prison, the procedure is to have the file reviewed and possibly request the case to be reopened due to the new evidence. In order to reopen your case, you will need to file a motion to set aside the verdict or plea. A judge will hold a hearing on your motion to determine if the verdict or plea should be set aside based on the new evidence. If the judge denies your request to set aside, the next step would be appeal. If the State Attorney’s office has enough evidence against you to secure your conviction without the fingerprint evidence, it is likely your conviction will be upheld.

Client Reviews

★★★★★

I would like thank my attorney Thomas Luka. I knew from the beginning I had the right guy in my corner. While celebrating with family and friends at a Public Park in Seminole County, a fight broke out among various people. Myself, and a good friend, broke up the fight and the instigators left. Six months later, I was wrongly accused as the person who started the fight. The first attorney I hired could not even get a response from the State Attorney handling the case. Someone referred me to Tom and I felt comfortable at his demeanor and reactions.

After conversations with Tom, who knew I would settle for nothing less than a FULL DISMISSAL due to my innocence, I hired him. His firm of Adams and Luka did the due diligence by interviewing witnesses and the police who were on the scene, as well as starting a dialogue with the State Attorney. After gathering statements from witnesses, Tom was able to present a strong argument on my behalf to the State Attorney on why the case should be dismissed. If the State Attorney was not willing to dismiss the case, Tom was ready to take the case to trial.

The result by Thomas Luka: Case Dismissed.

I am 53 years old with a spotless record and glad to keep it that way thanks to the time, effort, hard work, and professionalism of the Adams and Luka and Tom Luka.

Earl from Mesquite
★★★★★
Thomas Luka left a life-long great impression of lawyers. He was always professional, on time, and answered things honestly. From the start and during the 14 months it went on - Tom was very upfront and honest with me about the possible outcomes. The result was better than I had hoped for. Tom really over-delivered. HIGHLY RECCOMEND. Marcela Giorgi
★★★★★
Adams and Luka were very professional and savvy in the courtroom. When you're in court with Mr. Luka you will think you have the best attorney there. I recommend this law firm. Pioneer Tech
★★★★★
Rich Adams is an outstanding criminal attorney. I have had the opportunity to refer several friends and clients to his practice for handling of criminal matters, and on every occasion he has produced an excellent result. Rich practices with attention to detail, a thorough knowledge of the law, and a passion to defend his clients. I will continue to refer clients to Rich Adams, and would strongly recommend him for your legal needs. Brian Pink