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Morgan v. Bradt, 2016 WL 1188438 (W.D. N.Y. 2016)

Case (cite)
Morgan v. Bradt, 2016 WL 1188438 (W.D. N.Y. 2016)
New York
Type of proceeding
Federal habeas corpus
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
John Clark
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defendant argues ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to present a defense on the firearms identification testimony presented at trial through cross examination or a rebuttal expert, stating that the techniques used were unduly suggestive. The court held that the counsel can not have been expected to know that the NAS report would come out two years later, and that petitioner did not show that there had been widespread changes in the acceptance of firearms testimony after the NAS2008 report. The court further held that the cases cited by petitioner holding that failure to consult an expert constituted ineffective assistance of counsel were distinguishable because they involved medical expert testimony and hinged on parties' credibility. This case case had eyewitness testimony and other evidence.
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


Note: Petitioner submitted two affidavits by Adina Schwartz on the unreliability of firearms identification techniques in support of his habeas petition.




“As the 440 Court [trial court for the motion hearing] observed, ‘[i]t defies logic to fault trial counsel for not knowing in 2006 that a ballistics opinion at least in one case in 2008 would be limited to being stated in terms of “ ‘more likely than not” but nothing more[.]” SR.279 (quoting Glynn, 578 F. Supp.2d at 575). Moreover, contrary to Petitioner’s assertion that the concerns expressed by his proposed expert were well-established at the time of his trial, ‘[f]or decades…admission of the type of firearm identification testimony challenged by the defendants has been semi-automatic; indeed, no federal court has yet deemed it inadmissible.'”