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State v. Nichols, 155 A.3d 1180 (R.I. 2017)

Case (cite)
State v. Nichols, 155 A.3d 1180 (R.I. 2017)
Rhode Island
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
Neil Clapperton
Summary of reasons for ruling
The expert testified that the magazine seived from defendant's home was capable of holding the kind of cartridges found at the crime scene. Defendant appealed arguing that the testimony failed to establish anything conclusive and invited jury speculation. Court dismissed the challenge reasoning that the inconclusive nature of the testimony affect the weight not the admissibility of the evidence.
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


“The fact that the state was unable to establish conclusively that the magazine seized from defendant’s home was the same magazine used in the shootings . . . Does not preclude its admission into evidence. Such consideration may properly be evaluated by the trier of fact in determining the weight to be given to the evidence, but they do not affect its admissibility.”




on assessing qualification: “. . . The district court may consider many, nonexhausitive factors, such as the witness’s formal schooling and academic degrees, licensure, employment and practical experience, and specialized training.”