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Garrett v. Commonwealth, 534 S.W.3d 217 (Ky. 2017)

Case (cite)
Garrett v. Commonwealth, 534 S.W.3d 217 (Ky. 2017)
Type of proceeding
Type of claim
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
Leah Collier
Summary of reasons for ruling
Because (1) the court agreed with the Otero court (see above) that despite the challenge from NAS2009, AFTE theory of identification still satisfies all Daubert factors, (2) when viewed in context, the state's expert testimony did not amount to absolute certainty that warrants exclusion, the state's expert testimony was correctly admitted.
The jurisdiction’s standard for expert admissibility at the time – list all that apply: (Frye), (Daubert), (Post-2000 Rule 702), (Other)
Second standard
Rule 702
Did lower court hold a hearing
Names of prosecution expert(s) two testified at hearing
Leah Collier
Names of defense expert(s) who testified at hearing (or None).
William Tobin
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


Defendant argued here that the expert testimony should be excluded because the State’s expert failed to qualify her statement with “to a reasonable degree of certainty” – It is true that the State expert did not qualify her statement in any way but the court still ruled that it did not amount to an “absolute certainty” when put it “in the context of her entire testimony, which relects the varying condition of bullets and her subjective experience analyzing them.”




Assessing Collier’s conclusion that the bullets were fired from the same gun in the context of her entire testimony, which reflects the varying condition of bullets and her subjective experience analyzing them, we do not believe her testimony amounted to “absolute certainty” so as to require exclusion. Rather, we believe the jury was charged with assessing the reliability and credibility of her opinion, given all the evidence presented.