Friday, July 07, 2006

1st Circuit Issues Decision on Modus Operandi Evidence as Lay Opinion Versus Expert Testimony

A police officer testifies that based on his training and experience, a notation was part of a drug dealer's customer order list. Expert testimony, or lay opinion? The latter, apparently -- at least for the moment, in the First Circuit. See United States v. Maher, No. 05-1598 (1st Cir. July 6, 2006) (Torruella, Hug, & Lynch, JJ.).


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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.