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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)
Year
2011
State
North Carolina
Type of proceeding
Appellate
Type of claim
Evidentiary
Expert evidence ruling reversing or affirming on appeal:
Admitted
What was the ruling?
Correct to Admit
Type of evidence at issue:
Firearms identification
Defense or Prosecution Expert
Prosecution
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)
NC 702
Did lower court hold a hearing
Y
Names of prosecution expert(s) two testified at hearing
Names of defense expert(s) who testified at hearing (or None).
Adina Schwartz (John Jay)
Discussion of 2009 NAS Report (NAS2009) or PCAST report (PCAST)
Brief mention that Schwartz cited to the NAS2009 in her testimony
Discussion of error rates / reliability
N
Frye Ruling
N
Limiting testimony ruling
N
Language imposed by court to limit testimony
N/A
Ruling based in prior precedent / judicial notice
Y
Daubert ruling emphasizing – which factors – (list 1-5)
N/A (see notes for reliability test in NC)
Ruling on qualifications of expert
Y
Ruling on 702(a) – the expert will help / assist the jury
N
Ruling on 702(b) – the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data
N
Ruling on 702(c) – the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods
Y
Ruling on 702(d) – reliable application of principles and methods to the facts of the case
Y

Notes

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.”'”