Coble v. State

In Coble v. State, 330 S.W.3d 253, 280 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals provided more specific guidance as to how these factors apply in cases involving the erroneous admission--at the punishment phase of trial--of opinion evidence as to a defendant's likely conduct in the future that is offered to assist the jury in assessing punishment. 330 S.W.3d at 286-88. Because Coble involved error in the punishment phase of a capital case by the erroneous admission of psychiatric expert opinion testimony regarding "future dangerousness," the court of criminal appeals framed the factors it examined as follows: (1) whether there was ample other evidence supporting the jury's finding that the defendant would commit future acts of violence; (2) whether the jury heard the same basic psychiatric evidence of Patterson's character for violence from another source; (3) the strength or weakness of the expert's conclusions, including whether those conclusions were effectively refuted; (4) whether the State emphasized the erroneously admitted opinion testimony during argument. Id. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that the trial court erred in admitting testimony about the expert's own personal methodology for determining future dangerousness. Id. at 271, 279-80. The expert provided no objective source material and he had never reviewed his prior predictions to test his hypothesis. Id. at 277, 279. Coble concerns a trial-court level challenge to the reliability of the methodology underlying the expert's opinion. Id. at 279-80.