Footprint Expert Witness

Footprint expert witness assistance is offered by Dr. Nirenberg in criminal matters where a footprint or footwear (including a shoe or shoes) is associated with a crime or criminal activity. As a clinical and forensic podiatrist with over 30 years in private practice, Dr. Nirenberg uses this combined skill-set to analyze foot and ankle issues.

Footprint expert witness issues involve footprint and/or footwear (and also gait) to help with criminal investigations generally. 

In some cases that Dr. Nirenberg assisted with a criminal left footwear at the crime scene and Dr. Nirenberg’s analysis showed that the criminal’s foot/feet could have worn the shoe (or shoes). Other cases have involved a footprint or footprints found at a crime scene. A footprint impression may be found on surfaces, in sand, or even inside a shoe.

When one footprint is found at a crime scene, careful examination may find other footprints. Research has shown that footprints may have significant individuality, as well as differences between a person’s right and left footprints.



Role of a Footprint Expert Witness

As a podiatrist or podiatry expert with knowledge, education and experience in forensics, Dr. Nirenberg may be able to provide analysis of footprints believed to be made by the criminal or perpetrator of a crime. Sometimes a crime may involve trauma to a person. This type of criminal case can create blood at the crime scene and when a person walks or stands in the blood, a footprint or pattern of footprints may result.

While a lone footprint may be able to show a particular suspect or person was possibly at the crime scene, a pattern of footprints may increase the evidentiary value of showing a particular person made the footprints. Or a pattern may suggest activity that occurred during the crime.


Types of Cases that Involve a Footprint Expert Witness

Beyond blood-soaked footprints, a footprint can also result from walking in other substances, including snow, sand, mud, or even paint. It important that law enforcement recognize the importance of a criminal or perpetrator’s footprint is present at a crime scene and take the appropriate measures to preserve the footprint for future footprint analysis.

Footprint analysis performed by a forensic podiatrist allows for possible insight into the foot of the person who made the footprint. As specialists in the foot, forensic podiatrists generally have knowledge of both the human foot, including its biomechanics, pathology, ailments and so on, and also forensic science.

Podiatrists generally complete an undergraduate degree before going on to spend four years more to become a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. This process often involves podiatrists gaining a detailed, through knowledge of the human foot. Footprints can be analyzed and compared with footprints made by a suspect or person of interest and also compared to the person’s feet.

Footprint criminal cases may range from homicide or murder to rape, assault or robbery. Just about any crime where a footprint or footwear (or a shoe) is found.


Who is a Footprint Expert Witness? 

Footprint analysis in criminal matters should ideally be undertaken by podiatrists (or other persons) who have both forensic experience and knowledge and also have experience, knowledge of the human foot.

A podiatrist (or podiatry expert) is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM), who treats the foot, ankle, and related structures in the leg. Podiatrists’ training involves learning about many issues that affect the human foot, including the foot’s 26 bones, many joints, many muscles, as well as knowledge of gait–of how we walk. 

A lack of such knowledge in forensic science or the detailed complexity of the human foot and the myriad problems that affect feet. Podiatrists’ education and training includes biomechanics, pathology, anatomy, physiology, treatment of foot problems (including foot and ankle surgery).


Footprint Expert Witness Qualifications

Dr. Nirenberg has spent over 30 years treating patients in his podiatry practice. This follows a medical education and residency in podiatric surgery. With his knowledge of forensics and crime, Dr. Nirenberg can put this knowledge to work with a criminal case involving footprints.

Dr. Nirenberg is board certified in Foot & Ankle Surgery and also in Primary Care in Podiatry, and he serves as president of the American Society of Forensic Podiatry and served on the Forensic Podiatry Subcommittee of the International Association for Identification (IAI), and currently serves on the IAI’s General Forensics Science and Practice Subcommittee.

Dr. Nirenberg also serves on the editorial boards of Science & Justice (journal of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences) and the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (forensic podiatry and nerve surgery), and he is Chair of the Exploratory Task Group on Gait Analysis within the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science.

Dr. Nirenberg has also served as an invited peer reviewer for forensic and medical journals, including the Journal of Forensic Science and Medicine, Forensic Science International, and The Lancet — one of the highest ranked medical journals.

Dr. Nirenberg was the first podiatric medical student to have a paper accepted for publication as a student (without a physician co-author) by the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, whose editor made a special exception to publish his paper.

Dr. Nirenberg has been awarded the Distinguished Podiatric Medical Writing Award for his paper, “Forensic Methods and the Podiatric Physician”.

Dr. Nirenberg has also lectured on forensics, including providing presentations at the International Association for Identification and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Beyond the USA, Dr. Nirenberg has provided forensic and/or medical related presentations for persons in Canada, India, Israel and Spain, and have lectured to professional trackers, police, attorneys, and has assisted in the training of podiatric residents.

He has also assisted law enforcement in the USA and Canada as a podiatry expert witness in the analysis of foot and gait-related evidence in criminal matters and provided review/verification of forensic reports for criminal cases in the United Kingdom (UK).

In the undertaking as a podiatry expert witness to determine if persons may have been wrongfully convicted, he has examined gait/pedal evidence for agencies in Commonwealth of Massachusetts, New York, California and Iowa. In 2022, his assistance contributed to the exoneration of a wrongfully convicted person.


Footprint Expert Witness Research

Dr. Nirenberg has authored or co-authored over 40 medical or forensic publications (or accepted publications) and/or short communications. Among these publications are some that involve research into footprints and footwear in the forensic or criminal context:

  • Nirenberg M.S., Ansert E., Reel S., “Reliability of a two-dimensional sock-clad footprint linear measurement method,” Science & Justice, 2021 Sep 1;61(5):649-56.
  • Nirenberg M.S., “Footwear-to-Feet Examination and Analysis: Comparing Worn Footwear to Persons and Human Remains,” Science & Justice (online 11/23/2022).
  • Ansert E., Nirenberg M.S., et al., “Ghosting Phenomenon in Static and Dynamic Footprints in India and the United States,” Science & Justice, 2023 May, 65(3);406-413.
  • Nirenberg M.S., Ansert E., Campbell J., Curran M., “Chasing Ghosts: An Investigation of the Ghosting Phenomenon in Footprints,” Science & Justice, 2020 Sep, 60(5):432-7.
  • Mukhra R., Krishan K., Nirenberg M., et al. “The Contact Area of Static and Dynamic Footprints – Forensic Implications,” Science & Justice, 2021 Mar 1;61(2):187-92.
  • Mukhra R., Krishan K., Nirenberg M.S., Ansert E., Kanchan T., (2020). Comparative analysis of static and dynamic bare footprint dimensions in a north Indian population, Forensic Science International, 2020 Mar 1: 308: p. 110169
  • Nirenberg M.S., Ansert E., Krishan K., Kanchan T. “Two-Dimensional Metric Comparisons between Dynamic Bare Footprints and Insole Foot Impressions – Forensic Implications,” Science & Justice, 2020, 60 (2), pp. 145-150.
  • Nirenberg, M.S., Ansert, E., Krishan, K. and Kanchan, T., “Two-dimensional linear analysis of dynamic bare footprints: A comparison of measurement techniques,” Science & Justice, 2019, Vol. 59, Issue 5, pp. 552-557.
  • Nirenberg, M.S., Ansert, E., Krishan, K. and Kanchan, T., “Two-dimensional metric comparisons between dynamic bare and sock-clad footprints for its forensic implications–A pilot study,” Science & Justice, 2019, Vol. 59, Issue 1, pp. 46-51.
  • Nirenberg, M.S., Krishan K., Kanchan T. “A metric study of insole foot impressions in footwear of identical twins,” Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 2017; 52:116-121.

Dr. Nirenberg is a co-editor of the textbook “Forensic Gait Analysis: Principles and Practice,” published by Taylor & Francis CRC Press.

Footprint Expert Witness Analysis in Media

To learn more about footprints and Dr. Nirenberg’s interest in the analysis of footprints in criminal cases, you can visit the following:

A&E TV True Crime Blog – What’s a ‘Shoe Autopsy’?

Gait, Footprints, and Footwear: How Forensic Podiatry Can Identify Criminals

To put Dr. Nirenberg’s clinical and forensic footprint expert witness experience to work for you, email him at or call his office at (219)663-2273.

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