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State v. Gibbs, 2019 WL 6709058 (Del. Sup. Ct. 2019)

Case (cite)
State v. Gibbs, 2019 WL 6709058 (Del. Sup. Ct. 2019)
Year
2019
State
Delaware
Type of proceeding
Trial
Type of claim
Evidentiary
Expert evidence ruling reversing or affirming on appeal:
Admitted
What was the ruling?
N/A; Trial court
Type of evidence at issue:
Firearms identification
Defense or Prosecution Expert
Prosecution
Name of expert(s) who were the subject of the ruling
Robert Freese
Summary of reasons for ruling
"The Court finds that where the State's expert testimony is based on methodology previously held reliable under Daubert, the State has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed expert testimony is reliable. Following similar considerations under McNally and Phillips, the State will have the opportunity to introduce evidence that suggests a nexus between both shootings. Defendant may challenge the evidence through cross-examination." However, the court also held that the expert cannot testify to 100% certainty and other limitations given the subjective nature of firearms identification.
The jurisdiction’s standard for expert admissibility at the time – list all that apply: (Frye), (Daubert), (Post-2000 Rule 702), (Other)
Daubert; DE 702
Did lower court hold a hearing
Does not say
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) or PCAST report (PCAST)
N
Discussion of error rates / reliability
N
Frye Ruling
N
Limiting testimony ruling
Y
Language imposed by court to limit testimony
The expert is precluded from testifying to being 100% certain as to his findings. If he testifies to a “match,” the expert may not testify to conclusions that suggest there is a match to “the exclusion of all other firearms in the world,” or that it is a “practical impossibility” that any other gun could have fired the recovered materials. He may not testify within a reasonable degree of “scientific” certainty and may not state his conclusions regarding a “match” with any degree of certainty.
Ruling based in prior precedent / judicial notice
Y
Daubert ruling emphasizing – which factors – (list 1-5)
N/A
Ruling on qualifications of expert
N
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
N

Notes

“In State v. Phillips, the Superior Court considered this issue and found the methodology of the Association of Firearm Toolmark Examiners (“AFTE”) reliable under Daubert. In making this finding, the Court also discussed the use of the NIBIN system and its role in firearm and toolmark examinations. Furthermore, in McNally v. State, our Supreme Court concluded that it could not “find plain error [in the admission of expert testimony] because [the expert] did explain his principles and methodology and applied those principles and methods to the facts.” Here, the State proffers that its expert will do the same.”

 

Weak reasoning in this case. Very little analysis. Court essentially just relies on this being admissible in the past and does not do any further analysis.