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Turner v. State, 953 N.E.2d 1039 (Ind. 2011)

Case (cite)
Turner v. State, 953 N.E.2d 1039 (Ind. 2011)
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
Michael Putzek
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defendant's challenges on the credibility of the testimony & its methodology are not sufficient base to render it inadmissible. The strength of expert testimony should be argued before the fact finder and not a viable contention on appeal.
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
Names of defense expert(s) who testified at hearing (or None).
Ronald Scott
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


This court also stressed that the firearms identification is a subjective determination. “In essense, identification is made when a person trained and experienced in the field makes a visual determination that two tool marks are similar enough to have been made by the same tool. This is a subjective determination, and all identifications are verified by a second examiner.”




For Indiana courts, Daubert is helpful but not controlling (so it does not “adopt” Daubert) and Daubert only applies to scientific evidences; contrary to federal courts where Daubert also applies to non-scientific expert testimony.


Firearms identification is different in this case because the comparison was done btw cartridge found at the crime scene and the cartridge found at defendant’s home – there is no known weapon.


Because Daubert is only instructive not authoritative in Indiana, the court did not rigorously apply the Daubert factors. But it implied that the expert testimony here might not be admissible (or at least the case would be weaker) upon a rigorous application of the Daubert factors.