Speakers: Brandon Garrett, Nicholas Scurich, and William Crozier. Presented by CSAFE. Recording available.
After applying the Daubert factors, the court reached the conclusion that ballistic matching lacks the scientific integrity to make statements of certainty. The court limited the ballistics expert testimony to only stating that the gun could not be excluded as a potential source of the bullet.
The court allows the ballistics expert testimony, but limits the testimony to say that the gun in question could not be eliminated as a source of the bullet.
The court affirmed the admissibility of the Government’s expert witness’s statement of certainty concerning the ballistic evidence. The expert testified that the markings were, “unique to that gun, and that gun only.” Id. at 346. Due to a failure to object by the defense and a lack of binding law that says otherwise, the inclusion …
The court finds that ballistics science is admissible, and notes the level of subjectivity and the impossibility of a perfect match in this field of science. The court prohibits the expert testimony from saying that the ballistic match is to a scientific, practical, or absolute certainty to exclude all other firearms.
The court finds that ballistics examination lacks the rigor and certainty of other forensic sciences, and there a limit is needed on the degree of confidence given during testimony. The court limits testimony to “more likely than not”.
Defendant filed a motion to exclude expert testimony which was denied in part and granted in part. The court held that the expert could provide testimony concerning toolmark evidence, but could not testify that a match was found to a degree of certainty which excludes all other firearms in the world from being the source.
Although the defendant’s motion to exclude testimony was denied, the court held that the toolmark expert may not testify that a match was found to an “absolute” or “practical” certainty. This conclusion was reached after evidence was presented that suggested this level of certainty was impossible.
The Court holds that it will allow ballistics testimony with limitations. The expert testimony can include things such as the methodology and the fact that a match was found, but the expert cannot make claims of certainty that the match excludes all other possible firearms in the world. Id. at 124.
The court ruled that toolmark evidence is relevant, helpful, and reliable if offered by a qualified examiner who followed the AFTE theory. Id. at 569-570. There should be documentation (photographs, notes, etc.) of the conclusions reached to allow confirmation by a second qualified examiner on how an identification was reached. Id. This documentation should also …
Offered by NIST