Collins v. Commonwealth – Case Brief Summary (Kentucky)

In Collins v. Commonwealth, Ky., 951 S.W.2d 569 (1997), the appellant challenged the testimony of a physician who had testified as both the treating physician of a sexual abuse victim and as an expert in the physical aspects of child sexual abuse cases, although there is no recognized specialty in child sexual abuse in Kentucky:

Appellant also challenges the substance of Dr. Bates's testimony on the grounds that it did not satisfy the test set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S. Ct. 2786, 125 L. Ed. 2d 469 (1993). . . . Daubert provides that when faced with a proffer of expert scientific testimony, the trial court must determine at a preliminary hearing "whether the expert is proposing to testify to (1) scientific knowledge that (2) will assist the trier of fact to understand or determine a fact in issue." Id. at 592, 113 S. Ct. at 2796. The Daubert decision was based upon the Supreme Court's interpretation of Federal Rule of Evidence 702 . . . . Kentucky Rule of Evidence 702 contains the same language as its federal counterpart . . . .

This Court adopted the Daubert analysis in Mitchell v. Commonwealth, 908 S.W.2d 100 (1995). The Mitchell opinion discusses the factors a lower court should consider in determining the admissibility of expert scientific testimony, including whether the theory or technique can be tested; whether it has been subjected to peer review; whether it has been generally accepted; and the known or potential rate of error. Id. at 102.

Having articulated that Kentucky follows the Daubert analysis for the admissibility of scientific evidence, we conclude that such analysis is not, in fact, triggered in this case. Daubert and Mitchell use the catch phrases "expert scientific testimony," "theory," "technology," and "methodology." Dr. Bates's testimony, on the other hand, concerned basic female anatomical findings. Her examinations did not involve any novel scientific techniques or theories. . . . We discern nothing of a scientific nature to trigger the necessity of applying the Daubert analysis.

In accordance with KRE 702, Dr. Bates was qualified as an expert based upon her knowledge, experience and training. Her testimony clearly assisted the trier of fact to understand a fact in issue . . . .(Id 951 S.W.2d at 574-575.)