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Commonwealth v. Gambora

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
933 N.E.2d 50 (Mass. 2010)


Facts

Jesus Gambora (defendant) was charged with murder. Investigators pulled two latent fingerprints from the scene of the crime. The prosecution sought to introduce testimony of two expert witnesses who would testify that the prints pulled from the scene match Gambora’s fingerprints. Gambora filed a motion in limine to exclude the testimony, arguing based on a report that fingerprint analysis is not scientifically reliable under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993). Specifically, the report stated that while fingerprints are unique to each person, fingerprints are similar enough that it may be difficult to know with complete certainty that a particular print belongs to a particular person. In addition the report stated that each step of the fingerprint match methodology is somewhat subjective and subject to bias. The trial court denied Gambora’s motion. The prosecution’s experts testified at trial that they had individualized the prints found at the scene of the crime to Gambora. The defense spent considerable time cross-examining the witnesses on the fact that they could not say with absolute certainty that the prints were Gambora’s. Gambora was convicted, and he appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Botsford, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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Concurrence (Spina, J.)

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