Skip to content

State v. Jones, 303 P.3d 1084 (Ct. App. Wash. 2013)

Case (cite)
State v. Jones, 303 P.3d 1084 (Ct. App. Wash. 2013)
Year
2013
State
Washington
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
Does not name the expert
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defense moved to exclude expert testimony on the grounds that it was pseudoscientific and novel, requiring a Frye hearing. The court holds that bunter mark evidence (and firearms identification testimony in general) is not novel and is widely admitted in courts around the country as accepted in the relevant scientific community and therefore the trial court did not need to hold a Frye hearing. The court also held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in holding that the expert was qualified due to his examining over 3000 cases and his training and education, and that bunter mark evidence is beyond the understanding of a lay person.
The jurisdiction’s standard for expert admissibility at the time – list all that apply: (Frye), (Daubert), (Post-2000 Rule 702), (Other)
Frye; 702
Did lower court hold a hearing
N
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 (court held no Frye hearing was necessary)
Limiting testimony ruling
N
Language imposed by court to limit testimony
N/A
Ruling based in prior precedent / judicial notice
N
Daubert ruling emphasizing – which factors – (list 1-5)
N/A
Ruling on qualifications of expert
Y
Ruling on 702(a) – the expert will help / assist the jury
Y
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
N
Ruling on 702(d) – reliable application of principles and methods to the facts of the case
N

Notes

Note: The Washington version of 702 applied in this case only consists of two factors: “(1) does the witness qualify as an expert and (2) does the witness’s testimony assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence”

 

“Bunter mark evidence—and firearm ballistics evidence generally—is hardly novel or untried. Although there is no reported Washington appellate case on this issue, numerous courts around the country have permitted firearm ballistic evidence, noting that it is an established science. See, e.g., United States v. Williams, 506 F.3d 151, 161 (2d Cir.2007) (holding that government expert’s firearms identification methodology matching particular guns to particular bullets was not pseudoscience); United States v. Hicks, 389 F.3d 514, 526 (5th Cir.2004) (holding that matching ballistics testing of shell cases is accepted methodology); Fleming v. State, 194 Md.App. 76, 1 A.3d 572, 586, 590 (2010) (holding microscopic “[f]irearms toolmark identification” and analysis is generally accepted in scientific community); Al Amin v. State, 278 Ga. 74, 597 S.E.2d 332, 344 (2004) (holding that ballistic and tool marks evidence is not novel). Because bunter mark evidence, like other firearm ballistics evidence, is generally accepted in the relevant scientific community, Frye was not implicated here and the trial court was not required to hold a Frye hearing.”