United States v. Monteiro, 407 F.Supp.2d 351 (D.Mass. 2006)
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:
Defense or Prosecution Expert
Name of expert(s) who were the subject of the ruling
Summary of reasons for ruling
The jurisdiction’s standard for expert admissibility at the time – list all that apply: (Frye), (Daubert), (Post-2000 Rule 702), (Other)
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
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
Firearm identification evidence straddles the line btw testimony based on science and experience. As the AFTE Theory describes it, the methodology is “subjective in nature, founded on scientific principles and based on the examiner’s training and experience.” Science is in the background, at the core of the theory, but its application is based on experience and training. The court must, therefore, determine the reliability of both the underlying science and its application.
“Although there appear to be a disagreement in the peer reviewed literature as to the reliability of the AFTE method of identification, consensus is not necessary.”
On the importance of having defense expert: documentation and peer review ensure that defense counsel will be able to challenge the results through their own testing and effective cross-examination. Defense experts may testify about both the limitation of the methodology and the evidence in a particular case in a way accessible to the jury.
For decades, both before and after the Supreme Court’s seminal decisions in Daubert and Kumho Tire, admission of the type of firearm identification testimony challenged by the defendants has been semi-automatic; indeed, no federal court has yet deemed it inadmissible.
Based on the factors outlined in Daubert and Kumho Tire, the Court concludes that the methodology of firearms identification is sufficiently reliable. Therefore, a qualified examiner who has documented and had a second qualified examiner verify her results may testify based on those results that a cartridge case matches a particular firearm to a reasonable degree of ballistic certaint
NOTE: This case discusses reliability at length