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State v. Terrell, 2019 WL 2093108 (Conn. 2019)

Case (cite)
State v. Terrell, 2019 WL 2093108 (Conn. 2019)
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
Andrew Pike
Summary of reasons for ruling
Because (1) the State has established that the basic techniques employed are generally accepted in the relevant scientific community (2) the defendant failed to challenge the methodological validity of the State expert's common origin testimony, the defendant's motion to preclude the State's expert testimony in its entirety is denied. But the expert is prohibited from describing the possibility that gunshot was fired from another gun as "a practical impossibility."
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


“A finding of sufficient agreement is essentially a subjective determination, based on the training and experience of the examiner. This conclusion is not based on any quantitative standard for how many striations or marks need to match or lineup.”




interesting quote from NAS2009: “[other than nuclear DNA analysis,] no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.”


The court emphasized the importance of having defense experts. In a previous ruling, the court (the same judge) prohibited the expert from making a common orgin (actual shot & test shot from the same gun) testimony. But in this case, the court held that “[i]n the absence of contrary testimony, the evidence that was presented through the State’s expert witness carries the day and establishes in this case that [the expert’s] common orgin testimony is based on a valid methodology.” The court noted that “[providing defense’s own expert witness] would have been helpful, and potentially determinative, as the expert could have expounded on the flaws in the methodology identified in the three national reports and by numerous commentators and applied them to the facts of this case.”