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State v. Hackett, 55 S.E.2d 696 (S.C. 1949)

Case (cite)
State v. Hackett, 55 S.E.2d 696 (S.C. 1949)
South 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
Mr. Zimmers
Summary of reasons for ruling
The issue was whether the evidence was sufficient to find guilt given that it was all circumstantial. The court held that based on the expert's testimony, among other circumstantial evidence, the jury was justified in believing the bullet was shot from the defendant's gun and that the defendant fired the bullet.
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


Very detailed description by the expert of his methods with a few interesting quotes about firearms identification, but the anlaysis was focused on the use of circumstantial evidence, not on the firearms testimony.




“It is now common knowledge that by means of the science of ballistics, it may often be determined that a bullet was fired from a certain pistol, and it is the modern tendency of our courts to allow the introduction of expert testimony to show that the bullet which killed the deceased was fired from a particular pistol or rifle, where it is first definitely shown that the witness by whom such testimony is offered is, by experience and training, qualified to give an expert opinion in the field of ballistics. 22 C.J.S. Criminal Law, § 565, page 876; 26 Am.Jur., § 440, page 460. The weight of such testimony is for the determination of the jury.”


Quote from expert: “‘It has found by scientific tests that it is not possible for two weapons to exist that impart the same pattern of microscopic markings. It is similar in this respect to finger printing examination where it has not yet been found that any two persons have identical finger prints. The same is true of weapons, each leaves its own identifying marks characteristic to that weapon alone and no other weapon can impart similar markings.’”