State v. Lamme

In State v. Lamme, 19 Conn. App. 594, 603, 563 A.2d 1372 (1989), aff'd, 216 Conn. 172, 579 A.2d 484 (1990) the Court applied that principle to expert testimony concerning a defendant's sobriety when his intoxication was the ultimate issue. The defendant in Lamme contended that the trial court improperly admitted a police officer's opinion testimony about intoxication because that was the ultimate issue in the case. 19 Conn. App. at 601-602. The officer in Lamme testified that the defendant was driving without his headlights on when he was stopped. 19 Conn. App. at 601. The officer also testified that when he approached the defendant's car, he had to bang on the window before the defendant opened it and that there was a strong odor of alcohol in the car. Id. The testimony also related the officer's administration of field sobriety tests and his interpretation of those tests. 19 Conn. App. at 603. Finally, the officer testified that on the basis of his observations and the sobriety tests, he believed that the defendant was intoxicated. 19 Conn. App. at 601-602. Affirming the decision of the trial court, the Court stated that "the officer's testimony, which included a description and interpretation of and conclusions regarding the roadside sobriety tests, was necessary for the jury intelligently to make a finding as to whether the defendant violated General Statutes 14-227a (a) by 'operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug or both.' The opinion portion of the officer's testimony differed from any other opinion testimony regarding the sobriety of an individual because it was based in great part on knowledge and skill beyond the ken of the average juror." 19 Conn. App. at 603-604. The Court concluded that the officer's testimony in Lamme met the previously stated requirement of the trier of fact's needing expert assistance so as to permit the testimony's admission as expert testimony on the ultimate issue of fact. 19 Conn. App. at 604. In State v. Lamme, supra, 19 Conn. App. at 594, the Court determined the nature of the officer's testimony in the context of the principal question about expert testimony on the ultimate issue. We noted that despite the trial court's categorization of the officer's testimony as lay opinion, his testimony constituted expert testimony. 19 Conn. App. at 602-603.