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Rice v. Gavin, 2016 WL 3009392 (E.D. Pa. 2016)

Case (cite)
Rice v. Gavin, 2016 WL 3009392 (E.D. Pa. 2016)
Type of proceeding
Type of claim
Due Process
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 his due process rights were violated because the NAS2009 report has led to a new understanding of firearms identification after his 1997 trial showing that the expert testimony admitted at his trial unreliable. The lower court did not address the due process claim so it is reviewed de novo. The court holds that defendant did not set forth evidence establishing a due process violation because the NAS report is not "a wholesale repudiation" of ballistics/firearms identification of the kind of used in the trial. The court states that even if the expert testimony overstates conclusions under today's standards, defendant has failed to show how that undermined the fairness of the trial. The court notes that the Supreme Court has considered a case using NAS2009 and the Court did not find that ballistics as a whole was unreliable. The defense cross-examined the expert and other testified that defendant was the shooter.
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


focuses on whether toolmark identification as a whole is unreliable, not in this specific instance.