Skip to content

Gardner v. United States, 140 A.3d 1172 (D.C. 2016)

Case (cite)
Gardner v. United States, 140 A.3d 1172 (D.C. 2016)
Year
2016
State
District of Columbia
Type of proceeding
Appellate
Type of claim
Evidentiary
Expert evidence ruling reversing or affirming on appeal:
Admitted
What was the ruling?
No Error due to Harmless Error
Type of evidence at issue:
Firearms identification
Defense or Prosecution Expert
Prosecution
Name of expert(s) who were the subject of the ruling
Lyndon Watkins
Summary of reasons for ruling
The court held that firmarms and toolmark expert "may not give an unqualified opinion, or testify with absolute or 100% certainty, that based on ballistics pattern comparison matching a fatal shot was fired from one firearm, to the exclusion of all other firearms."
The jurisdiction’s standard for expert admissibility at the time – list all that apply: (Frye), (Daubert), (Post-2000 Rule 702), (Other)
Did lower court hold a hearing
N/A
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) or PCAST report (PCAST)
NAS2009 & Ballistics Imaging (see the last column for details)
Discussion of error rates / reliability
N
Frye Ruling
Y
Limiting testimony ruling
N
Language imposed by court to limit testimony
N/A
Ruling based in prior precedent / judicial notice
N
Daubert ruling emphasizing – which factors – (list 1-5)
N/A
Ruling on qualifications of expert
N
Ruling on 702(a) – the expert will help / assist the jury
N
Ruling on 702(b) – the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data
N
Ruling on 702(c) – the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods
Y
Ruling on 702(d) – reliable application of principles and methods to the facts of the case
N

Notes

1. On cross examination, the defense counsel asked, “I believe your … expert opinion was the bullet recovered from [the defense], was consistent with having been fired from the silver pistol; is that correct?” The expert responded, “It was fired from the pistol, yes sir.” 2. The court noted that after NAS2008, “some jurisdictions began to limit the scope of a ballistics expert’s testimony.”

 

Ballistics Imaging (2008) “The validity of the fundamental assumptions of uniqueness and reproducibility of firearms-related toolmarks has not yet been fully demonstrated.”

 

We further hold that in this jurisdiction a firearms and toolmark expert may not give an unqualified opinion, or testify with absolute or 100% certainty, that based on ballistics pattern comparison matching a fatal shot was fired from one firearm, to the exclusion of all other firearms.