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United States v. White, 2018 WL 4565140 (S.D.N.Y. 2018)

Case (cite)
United States v. White, 2018 WL 4565140 (S.D.N.Y. 2018)
Year
2018
State
New York
Type of proceeding
Trial
Type of claim
Evidentiary
Expert evidence ruling reversing or affirming on appeal:
Admitted
What was the ruling?
N/A; 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
Jonathan Fox
Summary of reasons for ruling
In admitting the testimony, the court said that other federal courts have long admitted ballistics testimony and that the Second Circuit had recently affirmed the kind of expert ballistic testimony at issue in the case. However, the court said that challenges raised in the 2008 and 2009 NRC reports were sufficient to require the testimony be limited.
The jurisdiction’s standard for expert admissibility at the time – list all that apply: (Frye), (Daubert), (Post-2000 Rule 702), (Other)
702; Daubert
Did lower court hold a hearing
N/A (court said Daubert hearing unnecessary)
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)
NRC 2008 & 2009
Discussion of error rates / reliability
N
Frye Ruling
N
Limiting testimony ruling
Y
Language imposed by court to limit testimony
"may not testify to any specific degree of certainty . . . . However, if pressed to define his degree of certainty during cross-examination, Detective Fox may state his personal belief on that issue."
Ruling based in prior precedent / judicial notice
Y
Daubert ruling emphasizing – which factors – (list 1-5)
N/A
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

The Government’s detailed description of Detective Fox’s anticipated testimony is insufficient to persuade the Court that the concerns raised by such reports are unjustified. Specifically, the evidence fails to establish that the theory of uniqueness on which Detective Fox relies has been proven as a matter of empirical science, that there is any objective standard for declaring a “match,” or that there is any reliable basis on which Detective Fox could state the degree to which he is certain of his conclusions.

 

The general admissibility of expert testimony regarding ballistics analysis has been repeatedly recognized by federal courts. See, e.g., United States v. Glynn, 578 F. Supp. 2d 567, 569 (S.D.N.Y. 2008); Ashburn, 88 F. Supp. 3d at 247. Moreover, the Second Circuit has recently affirmed the admission of this kind of expert ballistics testimony. See Gil, 680 F. App’x at 14. As such, White’s motion to exclude Detective Fox’s testimony in its entirety is denied