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State v. Adams, 2011 WL 1938270 (Ct. App. N.C. 2011)

Case (cite)
State v. Adams, 2011 WL 1938270 (Ct. App. N.C. 2011)
North Carolina
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
Beth Starosta-Desmond
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defendant argues that the trial court erred in not exclusing the expert testimony due to unreliable methods. The court holds that the trial court's holdings that the expert was qualified, that she had previously testified as an expert, that she followed procedures, and that her work was reviewed from the hearing to exclude the expert testimony are binding. The court also notes that the trial court explained that other methods may be recommended or suggested, but are not mandatory. The court holds that NC precedent has admitted expert testimony using these techniques, and that precedent combined with the trial court's findings show that there was no abuse of discretion.
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
Agent Starosta -Desmond
Names of defense expert(s) who testified at hearing (or None).
Adina Schwartz (John Jay)
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


Expert testimony standard: “When determining whether a method of proof is sufficiently reliable, the trial court “ ‘may look to testimony by an expert specifically relating to the reliability, may take judicial notice, or may use a combination of the two.’ “ . . . . A trial court should look to precedent for guidance if other courts have addressed the method of proof in question. Id. “[W]hen specific precedent justifies recognition of an established scientific theory or technique advanced by an expert, the trial court should favor its admissibility, provided the other requirements of admissibility are likewise satisfied.” Id. When the trial court lacks sufficient precedential guidance it should ‘generally focus on the following nonexclusive “indices of reliability” to determine whether the expert’s proffered scientific or technical method of proof is sufficiently reliable: “the expert’s use of established techniques, the expert’s professional background in the field, the use of visual aids before the jury so that the jury is not asked ‘to sacrifice its independence by accepting [the] scientific hypotheses on faith,’ and independent research conducted by the expert.”'”