Laser Scanner Evidence Admitted in Federal Court

As laser scanners find their way into more crime-scene and accident reconstruction toolkits, this news from New Mexico will be a point of interest for many: A U.S. federal court recently issued a ruling affirming the scientific validity of Leica ScanStation evidence.

United States Magistrate Judge Gregory B. Wormuth, presiding over the U.S District Court for the District Of New Mexico, issued an order on Sept. 30, 2013 granting a Daubert motion to affirmatively admit Leica Geosystems ScanStation evidence and related expert testimony in the case of Stephan Cordova v. City of Albuquerque, et al.

The civil lawsuit against the City of Albuquerque stems from an incident on July 30, 2008, when Albuquerque police officers shot and wounded Stephan Cordova. In the judge’s ruling, he noted that plaintiff’s attorneys did not object to the scientific and technical validity of Leica ScanStation evidence or dispute that city defendants had laid a proper scientific and technical foundation for the admissibility of this evidence.

Any public safety agency planning to deploy their 3D laser scanner to crime or fire scenes with the intention of eventually taking that scan data into a federal court might at some point be subjected to a Daubert motion. A Daubert motion is a special case of motion in limine raised before or during trial to exclude the presentation of unqualified evidence to the jury. Daubert provides a rule of evidence regarding the admissibility of expert witnesses' testimony during United States federal legal proceedings.

“This ruling is a noteworthy development for anyone planning on submitting courtroom exhibits from Leica ScanStation data,” said Michael Cunningham, training and service operations manager for the Leica Geosystems Inc. Public Safety Group.

The ruling can be downloaded here.

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