Friday, October 15, 2004

Two New Decisions on Expert Evidence in Drug Cases

There are two new federal appellate decisions on expert evidence in federal drug prosecutions. Neither has a surprising outcome. In United States v. Ceballos, No. 02-1611 (7th Cir. Oct. 13, 2004) (Bauer, Ripple, & Rovner, JJ.), the court upheld the testimony of a narcotics agent on the subject of drug code language. And in United States v. Robertson, No. 03-4072 (8th Cir. Oct. 13, 2004) (Bye, Bowman, & Smith, JJ.), an Eighth Circuit panel upheld expert opinion from a detective on the modus operandi of drug dealers.


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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.