Skip to content

United States v. Simmons, 2018 WL 1882827 (E.D. VA 2018)

Case (cite)
United States v. Simmons, 2018 WL 1882827 (E.D. VA 2018)
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
Therese Moynihan
Summary of reasons for ruling
The expert's education, training and experience were sufficient to qualify her as an expert. The court further held that the subjective nature of the field did not render it unreliable because it was subject to nationwide testing and standards. The court declined to follow Williams v. United States because the expert here did not state their conclusion unequivocally."Accordingly, the Court recommends that so long as the Government can establish that Ms. Moynihan followed industry standards, to wit: documented, in detail, her conclusions in writing and photographs; she did not rely on any undisclosed examiner opinions; and that her conclusions were confirmed by at least one other examiner, and she does not attempt to make outlandish or unsupported pronouncements about her degree of certainty as to her identification conclusions, then there should be no barrier to admissibility, and Ms. Moynihan should be allowed to express her opinions “to a reasonable degree of ballistic or technical certainty” (or any other version of that standard"
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).
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


Although the court says that Daubert and 702 are the standards for admission, their anaylsis doesn’t really address much other than the qualifications of the expert and a shallow analysis of reliability.