Thursday, December 5, 2013

United States v. Hines case brief

United States v. Hines case brief summary
55 F. Supp. 2d 62 (D. Mass. 1999)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant moved to exclude handwriting analysis evidence in a bank robbery case. The prosecution moved to exclude the testimony of an eyewitness testimony expert.

CASE FACTS
Handwriting analysis testimony was admissible as to similarities or dissimilarities but could not extend to an ultimate conclusion, and accuracy of cross-racial identification was a relevant issue. Defendant, charged with bank robbery, moved to exclude expert testimony comparing his handwriting to the robbery note. The prosecution moved to exclude expert testimony on the subject of cross-racial identification.

DISCUSSION

  • The court granted defendant's motion in part because the field of handwriting analysis was not sufficiently reliable to permit an expert to render an ultimate opinion as to authorship. 
  • Handwriting analysis evidence was admissible for the limited purpose of assisting the jury in evaluating similarities, if any. 
  • The court denied the prosecution's motion, holding that because a witness of another race identified defendant, expert testimony citing scientific studies of decreased accuracy of cross-racial identification would provide the jury with relevant and useful information.

CONCLUSION
The court granted defendant's motion in part, ruling that handwriting analysis evidence was admissible as an aid to the jury but that the expert could not render an ultimate opinion because the field of handwriting analysis was not sufficiently reliable. The court denied the prosecution's motion because testimony as to scientific studies of cross-racial identification could be helpful to the jury.

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