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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)
Type of proceeding
Type of claim
Type of claim (second claim)
Expert evidence ruling reversing or affirming on appeal:
What was the ruling?
Type of evidence at issue:
Firearms identification
Defense or Prosecution Expert
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)
Second standard
Rule 702
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


“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.