Friday, February 02, 2007

Daisy Mae Meets Daubert

The Seventh Circuit has issued a decision discussing the qualifications and reliability of a bloodhound named Daisy Mae. From the opinion:
[The appellant] points out that Daisy Mae had only been used for two investigations prior to November of 2002, and that, although [Daisy Mae's handler] testified that the dog had successfully completed an intermediate-level test provided by the training program (which involved tracking a 30-to-60-minute-old trail over a half-mile distance), Daisy Mae had never received a certificate authenticating her efforts. [The appellant] also invokes [the handler's] own trial testimony that a young search dog must be worked regularly and notes that Daisy Mae missed a week or more of training time at several points during the year prior to the bank robbery....

The government contends that Daisy Mae and [her handler] had more than enough experience and success to demonstrate their reliability. They argue that [the handler] developed substantial knowledge of search dog training and methodology when he devoted 163 hours to Daisy Mae's training, and they note that in her two prior investigations Daisy Mae's findings were corroborated by other facts or tracking dogs.
The upshot? Any error in admitting Daisy Mae's findings was harmless. See United States v. Renkin, No. 05-2838 (7th Cir. Jan. 31, 2007) (Posner, Evans, & Sykes, 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.