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Jones v. United States, 27 A.3d 1130 (Ct. App. D.C. 2011)

Case (cite)
Jones v. United States, 27 A.3d 1130 (Ct. App. D.C. 2011)
District of Columbia
Type of proceeding
Type of claim
Type of claim (second claim)
Expert evidence ruling reversing or affirming on appeal:
What was the ruling?
No Error due to Harmless Error
Type of evidence at issue:
Firearms identification
Defense or Prosecution Expert
Name of expert(s) who were the subject of the ruling
Neal Morin, Michael Mulderig
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defendant challenged the trial court's denial of their request for a Frye hearing, arguing that if there had been a hearing, the defendant could have shown that this method of toolmark identificaiton is no longer generally accepted in the scientific community based on Adina Schwartz's article. The court held that even other courts that have held pretrial hearings and considered that article have found firearms identification evidence admissible, and that "nothing presented to the trial court (or to us) usggests that the pattern matching methodology is no longer generally accepted." On limited testimony: The court agrees that experts should be limited to testifying to a "reasonable degree of certainty," but does not make a desicion on the issue because the error is harmless in this case
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


Appellant asserts that the trial court should have at least precluded the experts from stating their conclusions with “absolute certainty excluding all other possible firearms.” The government does not directly concede the point, but instead represents that the current policy of the United States Attorney’s Office “is to have firearms experts qualify their conclusions ‘to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty[.]’ ” In light of the government’s representation and the growing consensus that firearms examiners should testify only to a reasonable degree of certainty, see note 8, supra, we will assume, without deciding, that such experts should not be permitted to testify that they are 100% certain of a match, to the exclusion of all other firearms.