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People v. Rodriguez, 79 N.E.3d 345 (App. Ct. Ill. 2017)

Case (cite)
People v. Rodriguez, 79 N.E.3d 345 (App. Ct. Ill. 2017)
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
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defendant argues that the court erred in denying his motion to exclude the expert testimony or to grant him a Frye hearing. The court holds that firearms identification is not new or novel because it is has long been accepted in Illinois and even the out-of-state courts that have considered reliability issues have admitted the testimony. The court also notes that firearms identification has garnered greater widespread acceptance than other forensics fields. Further, the court explains that the NAS2009 report does not undermine the reliability of firearms identification to the point that it is no longer generally accepted.
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


The circuit court noted that it was unaware of any published opinion of any court stating that firearms evidence was not generally accepted in the scientific community, and Sebastian has cited none on appeal. The few out-of-state cases Sebastian cites—in which courts have raised concerns about the reliability of such evidence but have nonetheless held the methodology to be sufficiently reliable to be admitted, at least in some qualified form—do not create the same situation the McKown court was presented with, where legal challenges were resolved both for and against admissibility of the HGN test and the law was truly unsettled.. . . Similarly unhelpful are cases involving testimony based on scientific methodologies that, although sometimes deemed admissible, never achieved the same sort of widespread acceptance as ballistics evidence.