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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)
Year
2018
State
California
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
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)
Kelly (Frye)
Did lower court hold a hearing
Y
Names of prosecution expert(s) two testified at hearing
N/A
Names of defense expert(s) who testified at hearing (or None).
N/A
Discussion of 2009 NAS Report (NAS2009) or PCAST report (PCAST)
NAS2009
Discussion of error rates / reliability
N
Frye Ruling
N (but general acceptance under Kelly was analyzed)
Limiting testimony ruling
N
Language imposed by court to limit testimony
N/A
Ruling based in prior precedent / judicial notice
Y (Cowan)
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

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]