United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER TO DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO EXCLUDE
LATENT FINGERPRINT IDENTIFICATION EVIDENCE
CHRISTINE M. ARGUE LO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Casaus's Motion
to Exclude Latent Fingerprint Identification Evidence (Doc. #
517). Essentially, Defendant Casaus asks this
Court to find that the fingerprint methodology used by the
FBI, commonly known as the ACE-V method, is per se unreliable
and therefore inadmissible. Keeping in line with the majority
of courts to have addressed this issue, the Court denies the
Evid. 702 imposes on a district court a gatekeeper obligation
to “ensure that any and all scientific testimony or
evidence admitted is not only relevant, but reliable.”
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579,
589 (1993). “Rule 702, both before and after
Daubert, was intended to relax traditional barriers
to admission of expert opinion testimony.” Cook v.
Rockwell Int'l Corp., 580 F.Supp.2d 1071, 1082-83
(D. Colo. 2006).
702 provides that a witness who is qualified as an expert by
“knowledge, skill, experience, training, or
education” may testify if:
(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other
specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to
understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and
methods to the facts of the case.
Fed. R. Evid. 702. The proponent of a challenged expert must
demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the
testimony and opinion is admissible. United
States v. Nacchio, 555 F.3d 1234, 1241 (10th Cir.
determining whether expert testimony is admissible, the Court
generally employs a three-step process. First, it must first
determine whether the expert is qualified “by
knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education”
to render an opinion. Id. at 124. Second, if the
expert is sufficiently qualified, the Court must determine
whether the proposed testimony is sufficiently
“relevant to the task at hand, ” such that it
“logically advances a material aspect of the
case.” Norris v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 397
F.3d 878, 884, 884 n.2 (10th Cir. 2005). “Doubts about
whether an expert's testimony will be useful should
generally be resolved in favor of admissibility unless there
are strong factors such as time or surprise favoring
exclusions. The jury is intelligent enough to ignore what is
unhelpful in its deliberations.” Robinson v. Mo.
Pac. R.R. Co., 16 F.3d 1083, 1090 (10th Cir. 1994)
the Court examines whether the expert's opinion
“has ‘a reliable basis in the knowledge and
experience of his [or her] discipline.'”
Id. (quoting Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592).
Guided by these principles, this Court has “broad
discretion” to evaluate whether an expert is helpful,
qualified, and reliable under F.R.E. 702. United States
v. Velarde, 214 F.3d 1204, 1208-09 (10th Cir. 2000).
Casaus does not dispute the Government's fingerprint
expert's qualifications, nor does he argue that the
fingerprint evidence is irrelevant. Instead, he focuses only
on the general ...