Former FBI (20 years) Supervisory Special Agent, assigned to the Behavioral Analysis Unit. Program Manager of Threat Assessment/Forensic Linguistics Program. Only certified and qualified criminal profiler and forensic linguist in the history of the FBI and world-wide. Utilized text analysis methods resulting in the apprehension of Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber. During FBI career, participated in high-profile violent crime and counterterrorism-related investigations, utilizing forensic linguistics to further investigations and prosecutions when appropriate. Testified numerous times in both federal and state court as an expert in textual analysis and forensic linguistics. First person ever to provide expert testimony in US federal court in textual analysis. Reviewed and assessed thousands of communications from a threat assessment, statement analysis or authorial attribution perspective. Created, designed and implemented the FBI's Communicated Threat Assessment Database (CTAD), a one-of-a-kind repository for all threatening and criminal communications. In CTAD, every word and lexical feature in every communication is fully searchable and comparable using both behavioral and linguistic parameters. Primary instructor of "Threat Assessment and Text Analysis: Utilizing a Forensic Linguistic Methodology," both domestically and internationally. Created the FBI's week-long "Forensic Linguistic Workshop for Law Enforcement Practitioners," the only course of its kind in the US.
Forensic linguistics was a key element in the prosecution of Wesley Earnest for the murder of his wife, Jocelyn, in bucolic Bedford County in southern Virginia.
Jim Fitzgerald examined the “suicide” note purportedly penned by Jocelyn Earnest before she was killed in December 2007 in the lakeside vacation home she owned with her estranged husband.
At the first Earnest trial in April 2010, Fitzgerald testified that there were not enough similarities between the suicide note and Jocelyn Earnest’s known writings to conclude that the note was written by her.
Wesley Earnest was convicted of first degree murder, but the case was eventually declared a mistrial because of jury misconduct.
Fitzgerald was recalled to testify in Earnest’s second trial in November, resulting in Earnest’s second conviction for first degree murder. On January 25, 2011, Earnest was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife.