Skip to content

Amaro v. State, 272 So.3d 853 (D. Fla. 2019)

Case (cite)
Amaro v. State, 272 So.3d 853 (D. Fla. 2019)
Type of proceeding
Type of claim
Ineffective assistance of counsel
Type of claim (second claim)
Expert evidence ruling reversing or affirming on appeal:
What was the ruling?
Correct to Admit
Type of evidence at issue:
Firearms identification
Defense or Prosecution Expert
Name of expert(s) who were the subject of the ruling
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defendant argues ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to file a pretrial motion in limine requesting a Daubert hearing to exclude or limit the expert's testimony. The court holds that firearms identification has long been accpeted in Florida and is not a new or novel methodology and that widespread acceptance has led courts to admit firearms identificaiton testimony under both Daubert and Frye. It was therefore not deficient performance to fail to move to exlclude tool-mark evidence under Daubert.
The jurisdiction’s standard for expert admissibility at the time – list all that apply: (Frye), (Daubert), (Post-2000 Rule 702), (Other)
Second standard
Did lower court hold a hearing
Names of prosecution expert(s) two testified at hearing
Names of defense expert(s) who testified at hearing (or None).
Discussion of 2009 NAS Report (NAS2009)
Discussion of 2016 PCAST report (PCAST)
Discussion of error rates / reliability
Frye Ruling
Limiting testimony ruling
Language imposed by court to limit testimony
Ruling based in prior precedent / judicial notice
Daubert ruling emphasizing – which factors – (list 1-5)
Ruling on qualifications of expert
Ruling on 702(a) – the expert will help / assist the jury
Ruling on 702(b) – the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data
Ruling on 702(c) – the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods
Ruling on 702(d) – reliable application of principles and methods to the facts of the case


Court relies on the widespread acceptance of this testimony in Florida.




Forensic firearm and tool-mark identification evidence is not a new or novel methodology, and its admissibility in criminal cases is well-documented in Florida’s jurisprudence. . . . . Because of the widespread acceptance of ballistics evidence, courts have admitted expert testimony regarding such evidence under both the Daubert and Frye standards. . . . Thus, we agree with the postconviction court that Amaro failed to establish deficient performance and prejudice as required by Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984), based on his trial counsel’s failure to move to exclude the tool-mark evidence under Daubert.


Defendant’s support: “On appeal, [defendant] fails to cite to any authority in support of his position—that such expert testimony should be excluded or limited based on its unreliability or relevance pursuant to Daubert. Rather, he relies on a series of articles based on a Google search that challenge the reliability and conclusiveness of ballistics evidence. However, Amaro did not present these articles below, and the articles are not part of the record on appeal. Thus, Amaro’s inclusion of this search in his brief was improper.”