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People v. Fisher, 172 N.E. 743 (Ill. 1930)

Case (cite)
People v. Fisher, 172 N.E. 743 (Ill. 1930)
Year
1930
State
Illinois
Type of proceeding
Appellate
Type of claim
Evidentiary
Expert evidence ruling reversing or affirming on appeal:
Admitted
What was the ruling?
Correct to Admit
Type of evidence at issue:
Firearms identification
Defense or Prosecution Expert
Prosecution
Name of expert(s) who were the subject of the ruling
Calvin Goddard
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defendant argued the expert's testimony was novel and should not have been admitted; that it was not within the field of expert testimony; and that no state law authorized its admission. The court held that "in this case, where the witness has been able to testify that by the use of magnifying instruments *241 and by reason of his experience and study he has been able to determine the condition of a certain exhibit, which condition he details to the jury, such evidence, while the jury are not bound to accept his conclusions as true, is competent expert testimony on a subject properly one for expert knowledge." The court also held that the expert's testimony that the bullet was fired from the defendant's gun was "competent for what it was worth." Defendant also argues that the testimony should be excluded because the experiments were not done in the presence of the defendants. The court held that it is not necessary to do experiments in the presence of the defendant. Finally, the court held that it is not error to permit demonstration on a blackboard in front of the jury.
The jurisdiction’s standard for expert admissibility at the time – list all that apply: (Frye), (Daubert), (Post-2000 Rule 702), (Other)
Other: "The general rule is that whatever tends to prove any material fact is relevant and competent. People v. Gray, 251 Ill. 431, 96 N. E. 268. Expert testimony is admissible when the subject-matter of the inquiry is of such a character that only persons of skill and experience in it are capable of forming a correct judgment as to any facts connected therewith. People v. Jennings, supra. Such evidence is not confined to classified and special professions, but is admissible wherever peculiar skill and judgment applied to a particular subject are required to explain results by tracing them to their causes. Such evidence is admissible when the witnesses offered as experts have peculiar knowledge or experience not common to the world which renders their opinions founded on such knowledge and experience an aid to the court or jury determining the issues."
Did lower court hold a hearing
N
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)
N/A
Discussion of error rates / reliability
N/A
Frye Ruling
N
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
N
Ruling on 702(d) – reliable application of principles and methods to the facts of the case
N

Notes

“In Lyon v. Oliver, 316 Ill. 292, 147 N. E. 251, it was pointed out that handwriting, photography of questioned documents, and identification of typewriting were subjects for expert testimony. It was in that case shown that the same typewriter might, after considerable use, register letters of different form from that which it would make of the same letter when the machine was new, and that whether this has occurred in any given case is a subject for expert testimony. We are of the opinion that in this case, where the witness has been able to testify that by the use of magnifying instruments *241 and by reason of his experience and study he has been able to determine the condition of a certain exhibit, which condition he details to the jury, such evidence, while the jury are not bound to accept his conclusions as true, is competent expert testimony on a subject properly one for expert knowledge.”

 

Objection is made to the admission of the testimony of Goddard that he was able to tell by the shotgun shells found, and the sawed-off shotgun offered in evidence, that the shells were fired by that gun. He explained that under a microscope the imprint of the firing pain of the shotgun is evidence was unmistakably shown on the caps of the discharged shells found in the automobile. He explained that no two firing pins make exactly the same impression, but that the small rings made in turning out the point of the firing pin are shown under the microscope to vary in each instance, and that the rings formed in the imprint on the cap of the shells fired in this case were identical with the rings shown under the microscope on the firing pins of the shotgun in evidence. Such evidence was competent for what it was worth.