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People v. Lewis, 127 N.E. 3d 1127 (Ill. App. 2019)

Case (cite)
People v. Lewis, 127 N.E. 3d 1127 (Ill. App. 2019)
Type of proceeding
Type of claim
Type of claim (second claim)
Due process
Expert evidence ruling reversing or affirming on appeal:
What was the ruling?
No Error due to Harmless Error
Type of evidence at issue:
Firearms identification
Defense or Prosecution Expert
Name of expert(s) who were the subject of the ruling
Kurt Zielinski; Leah Kane
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defendant Juan Lewis was convicted of aggravated discharge of a firearm and sentenced to 16 years in prison. On appeal, Mr. Lewis argues that his right to confront witnesses was violated when the State presented the conclusions of one firearms identification expert through the testimony of another expert, who did not do the testing that led to those conclusions. Mr. Lewis did not object to the testimony at trial but asks us to reverse for plain error. We agree with Mr. Lewis that this testimony was improper but agree with the State that an objection to this testimony was required, and therefore, we affirm.
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
Kane Zielinski
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


Court engaged in “plain error analysis” (as opposed to harmless error): “Here, although we have found error occurred at trial, this error simply does not rise to the level of plain error in this case. Plain error occurs where either the evidence was “so closely balanced that the error alone threatened to tip the scales of justice against the defendant” or the error was “so serious that it affected the fairness of the defendant’s trial and challenged the integrity of the judicial process.””