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Connecticut (last Shepardized on 4/3/05)

    Connecticut adopted Daubert's basic reliability approach in State v. Porter, 241 Conn. 57, 698 A.2d 739 (1997) (reaffirming per se rule against admissibility of polygraph evidence), cert. denied, 523 U.S. 1058 (1998), at least for scientific evidence reliant on novel or problematic theories or techniques.  However, Connecticut does not require a Porter inquiry where the testimony is founded on principles so well established in the scientific community that there is little or no debate over their validity.  Just how "well established" the relevant principles must be, to obviate the need for a Porter inquiry entirely, remains somewhat unclear.  Compare, e.g., Hayes v. Decker, 263 Conn. 677, 822 A.2d 228 (2003) (no Porter analysis required for certain generally accepted principles of cardiology) with Maher v. Quest Diagnostics, Inc., 269 Conn. 154, 847 A.2d 978 (2004) ("doubling time" analysis for cervical cancer not sufficiently well established to eliminate need for Porter inquiry).

    The Connecticut Code of Evidence, as effective January 1, 2000, is available online.

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Connecticut Supreme Court

State v. Griffin, No. 17052 (Conn. Sup. Ct. Apr. 5, 2005). 

State v. Perkins, 271 Conn. 218, 856 A.2d 917 (2004).  In vehicular manslaughter trial, prosecution offers testimony from toxicologist Joel Milzoff, who testifies in general terms that alcohol operates as depressant, inhibiting reflexes, response time, and ability to operate machinery.  Jury convicts.  Admissibility affirmed.  Relevant principles are so well established that no Porter hearing was required.

Maher v. Quest Diagnostics, Inc., 269 Conn. 154, 847 A.2d 978 (2004).  Plaintiff alleges that gynecologist's failure to perform colposcopy in her 1995 visit delayed his diagnosis of her cervical cancer until her 1996 exam, resulting in need for radical hysterectomy and additional complications.  In support, plaintiff offers testimony from Dr. Robert Swan, board certified gynecologic oncologist, who opines that "doubling time" for plaintiff's aggressive form of cancer -- i.e., time period necessary for tumor to double in volume -- was 30 to 60 days, so that delay in diagnosis permitted cancer to progress from very early and more easily treatable stage to much more advanced one.  Trial court admits testimony after Porter hearing.  Jury finds for plaintiff and defendants appeal.  Admissibility reversed.  Plaintiff says "doubling time" methodology is so well established that Porter analysis was unnecessary.  But plaintiff and her expert can cite no literature establishing "doubling time" for cervical cancer, and plaintiff's authorities from other jurisdictions all involve mesothelioma or breast, lung, or prostate cancer.  Dr. Swan says he derived his "doubling time" estimate from literature on breast cancer, but no cited literature or authority sanctions extrapolation of breast cancer "doubling times" to cervical cancer.  Moreover, authorities elsewhere have held "doubling time" analyses unreliable as applied in particular cases.  Thus Dr. Swan's approach cannot be said to be so well established as to eliminate need for Porter inquiry.  Applying that inquiry, trial court erred in admitting evidence on this record, because it uncritically credited Dr. Swan's vague claims of support in "literature" for his theories, without undertaking its own independent assessment.

Hayes v. Decker, 263 Conn. 677, 822 A.2d 228 (2003).  Patient goes to internist for physical and reports sexual dysfunction as well as several cardiac risk factors including high blood pressure, for which patient is taking Procardia as prescribed by his kidney physician.  Internist recommends that patient lose weight to control blood pressure and stop taking Procardia to restore sexual function.  After following internist's advice, patient suffers massive heart attack and later undergoes triple bypass surgery.  In suit against internist for malpractice, patient offers testimony from Dr. Richard Friedlander, who opines that although cessation of blood pressure medication did not cause heart attack, it did elevate patient's blood pressure and resulted in additional tissue damage from heart attack.  Trial court excludes testimony as unreliable.  Patient appeals following judgment for internist.  Exclusion reversed.  Applying Daubert and Porter, trial court found testimony unreliable for two reasons: (1) no published studies link withdrawal of Procardia with increased severity of heart attacks; and (2) it believed the better evidence was that speed of treatment is primary factor in limiting severity of heart attacks.  First reason is unavailing because it focuses on expert's conclusions rather than his methods.  Second reason misapplies Porter.  Trial courts do not have discretion to exclude expert testimony because they believe weight of evidence supports alternative theory.  Moreover, Porter does not even apply to this testimony, which was based on generally accepted principles of cardiology.  Concurrence: Because Porter is inapplicable, question whether testimony satisfies Porter need not be reached. 

State v. Kirsch, 263 Conn. 390, 820 A.2d 236 (2003).  Managing partner of law firm consumes substantial quantities of scotch at farewell party marking firm's dissolution.  On leaving, he drives home against oncoming highway traffic until exiting at on-ramp, where he collides with another vehicle, killing one of its occupants.  He is charged with manslaughter after hospital tests show his blood alcohol level at .210 percent.  He objects to introduction of test results at trial, but trial judge overrules objection, without convening evidentiary hearing, because the tests constitute business records, and also because hospital's method of testing for blood alcohol content involves no novel scientific techniques.  Jury convicts and defendant appeals.  Admissibility affirmed.  Defendant is correct that exception to hearsay rule for business records does not obviate other evidentiary objections or displace Porter's requirement that scientific evidence be reliable.  But hospital's enzyme method of screening for blood alcohol levels is widely accepted and involved no novel or problematic scientific theories or methodologies, notwithstanding defendant's contention that gas chromatography method would have been superior.  Thus no Porter hearing was necessary.  Even if it were, enzyme method would have satisfied Porter as matter of law.

State v. Pappas, 256 Conn. 854, 776 A.2d 1091 (2001).  Defendant is charged with bank robbery.  Prosecution offers testimony from FBI agent Mark Wilson comparing mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from hair samples provided by defendant to hair samples recovered at crime scene.  Defendant moves to exclude testimony as unreliable.  Trial court holds hearing and denies motion.  Jury convicts and defendant appeals.  Admissibility affirmed.  Mitochondrial DNA identification enjoys substantial scientific support and is generally accepted as legitimate forensic technique.  Because individual mtDNA is not unique, such testimony is uninformative unless associated with statistical probabilities.  Agent properly testified that 99.7% of Caucasian population could be excluded as source of mtDNA samples in this case at upper bound of 95% confidence interval.  Quarrels with agent's statistical method and his application of mtDNA methodology went to weight, not admissibility.  Testimony was not more prejudicial than probative.

State v. Kelly, 256 Conn. 23, 770 A.2d 908 (2001).  In sexual assault trial, prosecutors offer toxicologist Dennis J. Crouch to testify, based on bloodstain tests (radioimmunoassay and gas chromatography mass spectroscopy), that victim's blood contained no detectable drug metabolites.  Defendant counters with Dr. Frederic Rieders, physician, who opines to opposite effect, based on his multiple enzyme immunoassay test (EMIT) and also based on his reinterpretation of Crouch's results.  Trial judge excludes testimony from both experts after three-day hearing.  Jury convicts and defendant appeals.  Exclusion affirmed.  Porter not yet having been decided, trial court assessed Dr. Rieders's testimony under both Frye and Daubert, concluding that it did not satisfy Daubert because: (1) Dr. Rieders did not confirm his less reliable EMIT test with more reliable gas chromatography test of his own; (2) using EMIT test on dried blood samples was novel procedure not recognized as accurate in relevant community; and (3) "there was no peer review, no manual, no standard operating procedures within the laboratory, no cutoffs established, no independent validation done, nor any publication in peer reviews or other published articles by Rieders concerning his scientific methodology."  Even if testimony were reliable, trial court legitimately excluded it on relevance grounds.  Dr. Rieders could not define time frame in which victim would have ingested any drugs, and mere fact that victim may have used marijuana or cocaine at some indeterminate past time was not relevant to any material issue.  McDonald, C.J., concurs.  Landau, J., concurs.

State v. Reid, 254 Conn. 540, 757 A.2d 482 (2000).  In sexual assault trial, prosecutors seek to introduce evidence on microscopic hair comparisons from Kiti Settachatgul, lead criminologist at state police forensic laboratory.  Defendant objects on reliability grounds.  Trial court overrules objection after three-day hearing.  Settachatgul then testifies to recovering three pubic hairs from clothing of victim, comparing them to hairs provided by defendant, and finding them to exhibit similar characteristics.  Jury convicts and defendant appeals.  Admissibility affirmed.  Microscopic hair analysis is not the type of evidence to which Porter applies.  Some scientific testimony is based on principles that are so well established that preliminary scrutiny of their reliability is unnecessary.  Courts of Connecticut have admitted testimony based on microscopic hair analysis for many years, and courts elsewhere uniformly do so.  Moreover, this expert did not opine on any obscure points of scientific theory.  Rather, he testified on subjects accessible to jurors' understanding, showing them pictures of hair samples and noting comparable features.  Defendant also argues that Settachatgul's testimony was irrelevant because he did not positively identify defendant as source of hairs found at crime scene.  But his testimony on similarities between samples did assist jury, if only by supporting victim's eyewitness identification.  Finally, defendant objects that Settachatgul failed to follow prescribed procedures in his analysis.  But once scientific principles on which testimony is based have been found reliable, questions of application go to weight, not admissibility.

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