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Mourning v. Commissioner of Correction, 150 A.3d 1166 (App. Ct. Conn. 2016)

Case (cite)
Mourning v. Commissioner of Correction, 150 A.3d 1166 (App. Ct. Conn. 2016)
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?
Type of evidence at issue:
Firearms identification
Defense or Prosecution Expert
Name of expert(s) who were the subject of the ruling
Marshall Robinson
Summary of reasons for ruling
Petitioner appeals the denial of his writ of habeas claiming inefficetive assitance of counsel because his counsel did not move to exlude ballistics testimony and should have because the conclusions were not grounded in science. The court held that the petitioner failed to show that the testimony had prejudiced him. Further, the court agreed with the trial court's finding that the statistician's testimony was not credible because she had never worked or been trained in the field of ballistics or examined a bullet, and that the ballistics expert's testimony was credible.
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).
Called at habeas trial: Robinson (firearms expert), Frank Riccio (defense attorney), Alicia Carriquiry (statistician)
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


Statisticians testimony: “Carriquiry offered lengthy testimony indicating that she believed, as a result of her research, that ballistics identification techniques may be unreliable. Specifically, she claimed that the field of ballistics lacks scientific validity because (1) practitioners do not use a uniform standard of objective criteria in matching a bullet to a gun, (2) there is insufficient statistical evidence supporting the fundamental assumptions that every gun leaves unique markings and that every gun can reproduce the same markings over time, and (3) there is insufficient data with respect to how often practitioners make erroneous matches and how often coincidental matches occur. On the basis of the foregoing, Carriquiry opined that there was no “scientific basis” for Robinson’s conclusions regarding the ballistics evidence in the petitioner’s case. On cross-examination, Carriquiry acknowledged that she has never worked in the field of ballistics, that she has never examined a bullet, and that she does not have any training in ballistics.”