Sunday, August 10, 2003

Fifth Circuit Upholds Testimony Based on Satellite Imagery

On Friday, the Fifth Circuit upheld the trial court's decision admitting testimony from a government expert who opined, based on satellite imagery, that a farmer had filed claims for crop disaster payments for acreage not actually under tillage at the time. A summary of the court's ruling in United States v. Fullwood, No. 02-10840 (5th Cir. Aug. 8, 2003), and a link to the opinion, can be found here. The panel relied in part on an earlier decision, upholding testimony from the same expert in a similar case, in United States v. Larry Reed & Sons, 280 F.3d 1212 (8th Cir. 2002).
Fed. R. Evid. 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.