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United States v. Black, 2015 WL 13660442 (D. Minn. 2015)

Case (cite)
United States v. Black, 2015 WL 13660442 (D. Minn. 2015)
Year
2015
State
Minnesota
Type of proceeding
Trial
Type of claim
Evidentiary
Expert evidence ruling reversing or affirming on appeal:
Admitted
What was the ruling?
Other; Trial court
Type of evidence at issue:
Firearms identification
Defense or Prosecution Expert
Prosecution
Name of expert(s) who were the subject of the ruling
General admissibility of toolmark analysis
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defendant argues that firearms identification is not supported by a sufficiently scientific basis to be admissible (citing NAS2009 about subjectivity in the field). The court held that, despite the subjective nature, courts continue to allow firearm identificaiton testimony under 702 and Daubert (relying mostly on the Taylor analysis). The court held, however, that the subjective nature required the testimony to be limited.
The jurisdiction’s standard for expert admissibility at the time – list all that apply: (Frye), (Daubert), (Post-2000 Rule 702), (Other)
Daubert; 702
Did lower court hold a hearing
N/A
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)
NAS2009
Discussion of error rates / reliability
N
Frye Ruling
N
Limiting testimony ruling
Y
Language imposed by court to limit testimony
"any ballistics expert may not testify that (1) he/she is “certain” or “100% sure” that two items match, (2) a match is to “the exclusion of all other firearms in the world,” or (3) there is a “practical impossibility” that any other gun could have fired the recovered materials. A firearms expert may only testify that, in his or her expert opinion, the bullet came from the suspect firearm to within a reasonable degree of certainty in the firearms examination field."
Ruling based in prior precedent / judicial notice
N
Daubert ruling emphasizing – which factors – (list 1-5)
N/A (just says other courts had found that this satisfied Daubert)
Ruling on qualifications of expert
N
Ruling on 702(a) – the expert will help / assist the jury
N
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

Court just held generally that this satisfies 702, but does not make a ruling on any specific part of 702.

 

“After a review of Defendants’ arguments, the NAS Report, and the relevant case law, the Court concludes that firearm and toolmark identification is sufficiently reliable for admission under Rule 702. Numerous courts across the country have conducted thorough analyses of the reliability of toolmark identification with firearms in light of the NAS Report. It appears that in every instance, the court determined that expert testimony on toolmark analysis was admissible. . . . Indeed, Woods has not cited a single case excluding this type of expert testimony.”