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State v. Phillips, 2015 WL 5168253 (Sup. Del. 2015)

Case (cite)
State v. Phillips, 2015 WL 5168253 (Sup. Del. 2015)
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
Carl Rone
Summary of reasons for ruling
Reliabilityof AFTE theory: "Adopting the Otero Court's analysis, this Court finds that the AFTE methodology for firearms and toolmark identification is reliable under the Daubert requirements. As discussed in each section above, the AFTE methodology can be and has been tested, and it has been subjected to peer review and publication. The AFTE methodology also has a low error rate of approximately—1 to 2 percent—for false identifications when employed by trained examiners. Moreover, the AFTE provides an extensive manual that dictates the standards for examiners to adhere to while conducting their examinations. Finally, the AFTE methodology is generally accepted among professional examiners as a reliable method of firearms and toolmark identification. Importantly, Defendant even concedes that the AFTE methodology is reliable.56 Accordingly, the Court finds that the AFTE methodology for firearms and toolmark identification is reliable under Daubert."Defendant also argued that the expert did not apply the theory correctly. The court disagreed, stating that the expert's testimony that the AFTE manual not need to be followed word for word does not prove that he did not follow it in this case or generally. The court also notes that the Supreme Court of Delaware had previously found this expert's testimony relaible.
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
Carl Rone
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)
All factors
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


” Foremost, Mr. Rone has been admitted as an expert in the field of firearms and toolmark identification in several trials in this State, as well as many trials in other jurisdictions.” Note: I thought this was interesting because another court had noted that an expert not previously being admitted was irrelevant, citing case law that an expert being admitted should not reflect on their qualifications.