In United States v. Chapman the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky has ruled that vehicle identification number expert witnesses who had expertise in identifying stolen motorcycles may testify. The Court reasoned:
Simet, Kenney, and Riley’s proffered testimony is not based upon scientific evidence, is not subject to peer review, and is not based upon tests or studies. They are not traditional scientific experts, but are instead experts falling into the “other specialized knowledge” category. Fed.R.Evid. 702(a). A specialized knowledge witness qualifies as an expert witness “[s]o long as the testimony content is relevant and the method by which the specialized testimony developed is reliable …” U.S. v. Lawson 2009 WL 1208014, *4 (E.D.Ky., May 1, 2009) (citing Berry v. City of Detroit, 25 F.3d 1342, 1351 (6th Cir.1994)). “Reliability in specialized knowledge testimony is indicated by testing the theory or technique and applying any other relevant Daubert factors.” Id. (citing Berry, 25 F.3d at 1351). “When a witness presents information that is outside the working knowledge of an average lay person, then the need for an expert exists.” Id. (citing U.S. v. White, 492 F.3d 380, 403 (6th Cir.2007).
Specialized knowledge accrued through experience suffices to establish expertise. Berry, 25 F.3d at 1349–50; Lawson, 2009 WL at * 4. “In the Eastern District of Kentucky, a range of relevant factors have been identified regarding the qualification of specialized knowledge experts. Relevant factors include the proffered expert’s knowledge of an industry and knowledge of an industry’s common practices, in addition to the expert’s demonstrated relevant experience, training, and education.” Id. (citing Oaks v. Wiley Sanders Truck Lines, Inc., 2008 WL 4180267, at *3 (E.D.Ky.2008)).
Simet, Kenney, and Riley have intricate knowledge pertaining to auto theft and vehicle identification shaped and developed by years of experience. Simet currently works for Harley–Davidson as a Market Compliance and Vehicle Specialist. [R. 245; Government Exhibit 1.] Since 1986, he has published a Harley–Davidson Motorcycle Identification Manual annually. [Id.] Additionally, Simet has testified as an expert witness in other motorcycle cases, and has taught Harley–Davidson identification courses at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and at various Auto Theft and Gang Investigation Seminars in the United States, Australia, and Canada. [Id.]
Kenney is a Connecticut State Police officer and is a certified instructor in the “Motorcycle Identification and Auto Theft” field. [R. 232–1; Government Exhibit 4.] He has taught in several venues including “the FBI academy in Quantico, Virginia”, “[four] Canadian Provinces”, and in “Australia and Europe.” [Id.] He began his study of Harley–Davidson motorcycles in 1978, and over the years has “produced Confidential Manuals for Law Enforcement titled ‘The Identification of Harley–Davidson Motorcycles’ ”. [Id.]
Riley, former detective with the Kentucky State Police, has extensive experience with vehicle identification. He has been recognized in both state and federal courts as an expert witness in stolen vehicles. [R. 269–2, at 4.] Further, he has taught at several auto theft detection and identification classes, and has been certified as an instructor in auto theft detection and identification by the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators. [Id. at 4–5.]
Their knowledge, built by years of teaching, training, and education, allows them to explain in great depths the techniques utilized to complicate and obscure motorcycle and motorcycle part identification. The Court, in its gatekeeping capacity, is confident that because of their years of experience in vehicle identification, their testimony as to the alteration process is reliable. See U.S. v. Jones, 107 F.3d 1147, 1160 (6th Cir.1997) (citing Edward J. Imwinkelried, The Next Step After Daubert: Developing a Similarly Epistemological Approach to Ensuring the Reliability of Nonscientific Expert Testimony, 15 Cardozo L.Rev. 2271, 2292–92 (1994) (explaining that non-scientific expert testimony increases with the more experiences an expert has had and the similarity of those experiences to the expert’s testimony).
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