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Willie v. State, 274 So.3d 934 (Miss.Ct.App. 2018)

Case (cite)
Willie v. State, 274 So.3d 934 (Miss.Ct.App. 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
Bryon McIntire
Summary of reasons for ruling
Defendant, citing NAS2009 and PCAST, appealed on the basis that the state's expert testimony failed the Daubert test because the science behind firearms identification is "inherently unreliable" and the expert failed to provide any margin of error. The court held that (1) the flexible Daubert inquiry does not require experts to provide a margin of error; (2) firearms identification testimonies are admissible when qualified with "reasonable degree of scientific certainty."
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)
(3); (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


The qualifying phrase “reasonable degree of scientific certainty” was held to be enough to make a firearms identification testimony admissble under Daubert




NAS2009: “Conclusions drawn in firearms identification should not be made to imply the presence of a firm statistical basis when none has been demonstrated. Specifically, … examiners tend to cast their assessments in bold absolutes, commonly asserting that a match can be made to the exclusion of all other firearms in the world. Such comments cloak an inherently subjective assessment of a match with extreme probability statement that has no firm grounding and unrealistically implies an error rate of zero


PCAST: “Whether firearms analysis should be deemed admissble based on current evidence is a decision that belongs to the courts. If firearms analysis is allowed in courts, the scientific criteria for validity as applied should be understood to require clearly reporting the error rates seen in one appropriately designed black-box study. Claims of higher accuracy are not scientifically justified.”