State v. McNally

In State v. McNally, 39 Conn. App. 419, 424, 665 A.2d 137, cert. denied, 235 Conn. 931, 667 A.2d 1269 (1995), the defendant was an off-duty police officer who was charged with assault after an altercation outside a bar. He argued on appeal that the trial court improperly excluded his expert testimony, as a police officer, that the victim was intoxicated at the time of the event. 39 Conn. App. at 424. In affirming the trial court's decision, the Court stated that "State v. Lamme is distinguishable from this case because in State v. Lamme the officer's opinion was based on field sobriety tests and the officer's interpretation of those tests. In this case, however, the witness did not conduct field sobriety tests, but rather relied solely on his observation of the victim and his companions to formulate his opinion." Id. The Court concluded that "the expert opinion was properly excluded on the ground that a determination of a person's intoxication based solely on observation and not on an interpretation of sobriety tests is within the general knowledge of the jury." Id. McNally indicates that testimony based solely on observations of another's behavior that might indicate intoxication is not beyond the jury's understanding and therefore does not meet the three-pronged test for admitting expert testimony.