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United States v. Taylor, 663 F.Supp.2d 1170 (D. N.M. 2009)

Case (cite)
United States v. Taylor, 663 F.Supp.2d 1170 (D. N.M. 2009)
Year
2009
State
New Mexico
Type of proceeding
Trial
Type of claim
Evidentiary
Expert evidence ruling reversing or affirming on appeal:
Admitted
What was the ruling?
Other; Daubert hearing
Type of evidence at issue:
Firearms identification
Defense or Prosecution Expert
Prosecution
Name of expert(s) who were the subject of the ruling
Ron G. Nichols
Summary of reasons for ruling
The court found that the methods used satisfied Daubert, but given concerns about reliability, the expert could not testify as a matter of scientific certainty
The jurisdiction’s standard for expert admissibility at the time – list all that apply: (Frye), (Daubert), (Post-2000 Rule 702), (Other)
Daubert; FRE 702
Did lower court hold a hearing
Y
Names of prosecution expert(s) two testified at hearing
Ron G. Michols
Names of defense expert(s) who testified at hearing (or None).
Adina Schwartz (John Jay)
Discussion of 2009 NAS Report (NAS2009) or PCAST report (PCAST)
NAS2008/2009
Discussion of error rates / reliability
Y
Frye Ruling
N
Limiting testimony ruling
Y
Language imposed by court to limit testimony
cannot testify that "he can conclude that there is a match to the exclusion, either practical or absolute, of all other guns. He may only testify that, in his opinion, the bullet came from the suspect rifle to within a reasonable degree of certainty"
Ruling based in prior precedent / judicial notice
Y
Daubert ruling emphasizing – which factors – (list 1-5)
(1);(2);(3);(4);(5)
Ruling on qualifications of expert
Y
Ruling on 702(a) – the expert will help / assist the jury
Y
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
Y
Ruling on 702(d) – reliable application of principles and methods to the facts of the case
Y

Notes

However, as one district court recently put it, “storm clouds … are gathering.” Id. Because of the seriousness of the criticisms launched against the methodology underlying firearms identification, both by various commentators and by Defendant in this case, the Court will carefully assess the reliability of this methodology, using Daubert as a guide

 

One additional problem with firearms examination, not necessarily neatly encapsulated by any one of the Daubert factors, bears mentioning. Generally, as was done in this case, the examiner is handed only one suspect weapon and the recovered projectile or projectiles. As one district court has pointed out, this method of testing is, “in effect, an evidentiary ‘show-up,’ not what scientists would regard as a ‘blind test.’ ”