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Phifer v. State, 2020 WL 2992097 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2020)

Case (cite)
Phifer v. State, 2020 WL 2992097 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2020)
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
Daniel Lamont
Summary of reasons for ruling
Because the state's expert adequately explained & documented the process of his finding and adequatedly explained "how he could say whether two bullets or two cartridges were fired from the same gun" and the basis for his conclusion, the court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when dismissing the defendant's motion to limit the testimony to the toolmarks are "consistent with" one another.
The jurisdiction’s standard for expert admissibility at the time – list all that apply: (Frye), (Daubert), (Post-2000 Rule 702), (Other)
Rule 702
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


another case stressed the importance of documentation & having the expert explained the basis for their conclusion. “For expert testimony to be admissble, his or her conclusions must be based on a sound reasoning process explaining how the expert arrived at those conclusions” and the factual basis for those conclusions must be “more than mere speculation or conjecture.” Here, the expert “provided a detailed overview of the process he used to match the casing, bullet, and bullet fragment to the handgun recovered. He explained the processes by which he compared . . . . A second examiner verified his conclusion.” The court ruled therefore the finding were not based on speculation or conjecture, ergo, admissble.