Examiner of Questioned Documents and Forensic Handwriting Expert


Tommy L. Rutledge has been employed with the Oklahoma City Police Department since May 20, 1967. Currently, he is a Sergeant assigned to Forensic Services. Mr. Rutledge was assigned to the Document Lab in 1977, beginning his apprenticeship with George Englebretson.

Through Englebretson, Mr. Rutledge met and studied periodically with other qualified examiners with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. In 1982, Mr. Rutledge was assigned to spend sixteen hours per week for several months at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, working with Ernie Smith, Forensic Document Examiner, perhaps the most qualified and reputable examiner in Oklahoma.

He attended the United States Secret Service Questioned Documents School in Washington, D.C. in June 1978, assuming full responsibility as Document Examiner for the Oklahoma City Police Department in 1981. In July 1981, Mr. Rutledge attended the FBI Academy Advanced Questioned Document course in Quantico, Virginia.

The scope of his expertise includes the examination and identification of disputed and/or questioned documents involving handwriting, handprinting, typewriting, check protectors, rubber stamps, the processing of documents for alterations, eradications and falsifications. He possesses specialized training in the use of microscopes, document photography, line and paper measurement and varied light applications, including ultraviolet and infrared.

Mr. Rutledge initially became qualified as an expert witness in the Federal Court system through work and study with the Secret Service, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division. He has been involved in hundreds of cases, in state and federal courts, in and outside Oklahoma, where document examination findings were key to litigation. Each time, he has been called upon to testify and has been re-certified an expert. Additionally, he successfully examined and identified foreign documentation in Zurich, Switzerland in July 1992.

In February 1983, Mr. Rutledge attended the FBI Academy Crime Laboratory Forensic Photography School, completing extensive studies in document photography, copy work, darkroom procedures, processing of evidence, use of special lighting techniques, reconstruction and matching of torn edges, ultraviolet and infrared photography and infrared luminescence. Since then, he has conducted examinations involving many aspects of identification, including thin layer chromatography (TLC), performing his own photographic work, processing and preparation of displays and exhibits for trial presentation.

In April 1989, Mr. Rutledge attended the Central United States Police Institute, successfully completing an arduous course in Technical Investigation. To further his knowledge and expertise to demonstrate findings through photography, he performed for approximately two years in the forensic photo lab within the Forensic Science Technical Investigation Division of the Oklahoma City Police Department.

Mr. Rutledge remains current on issues of forensic document examination, receiving and studying literature and publications on legal and other aspects of the field. He frequently attends conferences and seminars and maintains a consulting relationship with other experts throughout the country. He enjoys memberships in the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association For Identification, The Oklahoma and Midwest Document Examiners Association and is a former member of the Southwestern Association of Forensic Document Examiners. In years of being called upon to give testimony, he has never failed to qualify in any Court.

Mr. Rutledge is an affiliate of American Professional, Inc. in Oklahoma City, where he maintains a scientifically equipped laboratory including stereo microscope, magnifiers, long and short wave ultraviolet light sources, infrared camera with a full set of dropout filters, side specialty lighting, transmitted light tables, MP4 copy stand, a video monitoring system which has expanded his ability to examine obliterated and altered documents, and a fully equipped darkroom available to prepare photographic displays for courtroom presentation.