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People v. Gadlin, 2018 WL 5816613 (First Dist. Cal. 2018)

Case (cite)
People v. Gadlin, 2018 WL 5816613 (First Dist. Cal. 2018)
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
Todd Weller
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defendant argued that NAS2009 constituted a material change in the scientific opinion of firearms identification rendering it inadmissible. The court holds that the testimony was admissible because of the long history of accepting this type of testimony in California both before and after the NAS2009 report and CA Supreme Court precdent held that toolmark identification is something that jurors can readily understand and is therefore not a science under Kelly.
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


Trial court limitations on testimony: The court ruled percentages of certainty would not be appropriate, but deferred ruling on “how he couches his words as to whether he’s confident or not.”




“We recognize toolmark identification has come under increased scrutiny in recent years. But the 2009 NRC report, while criticizing the subjectivity of the field, does not call for abandonment of the field. We note such testimony has continued to be admitted in both California and federal courts, and our Supreme Court in People v. Cowan (2010) 50 Cal.4th 401 (Cowan ), reaffirmed the admissibility of such testimony even after publication of the 2009 NRC report. Indeed, defendant has not cited a single case prohibiting such testimony. Rather, some courts have only placed limits on the degree of certainty an examiner can express in a match. . . . Other courts, however, have continued to admit toolmark identification testimony without limitation. . . . In light of such recognition, we cannot conclude the scientific community has rejected toolmark identification.”


“Moreover, even if the scientific community did dispute the reliability of toolmark identification, Kelly only applies to “scientific” methods. . . . Defendant argues toolmark analysis is a scientific technique, because jurors cannot “competently evaluate for themselves whether ‘this gun fired this bullet.’ ” While defendant acknowledges the California Supreme Court found otherwise in Cowan, supra, 50 Cal.4th 401, he attempts to distinguish that opinion from the current case because he “made a strong showing that toolmark identification carries the weight of science.” We find this attempt to distinguish Cowan unavailing.” [the court then analyses the reasoning in Cowan]