The Court of Appeals applied the new Daubert test for expert testimony and held that trial court abused its discretion by allowing the State’s expert witness’s testimony about fingerprint evidence. A petition for discretionary review was granted by the NC Supreme Court which subsequently found that discretionary review was improvidently granted, leaving intact the Court of Appeals opinion. The court held that the witness’s testimony failed to satisfy Rule 702(a)(3) which requires that an expert witness be able to explain the abstract methodology underlying the opinion and reliably apply that methodology to the facts of the case. Here, the witness provided no detail in explaining how she arrived at her conclusions in the case at hand. The court held that the expert implicitly asked the jury to accept her expert opinion that the prints matched when she failed to provide an explanation of how she applied the general principles and methods to the specific case at hand.
For further discussion, see Brandon Garrett, The Reliable Application of Fingerprint Evidence 66 UCLA L. Rev. Disc. 64 (2018).