A Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) firearms examiner who routinely testified for the State in gun cases resigned from the GBI after it was learned that she gave false testimony in numerous cases, according to an article on AJC.com. The article indicates that the GBI firearms examiner mischaracterized in her sworn testimony the number of times she tested the guns about which she testified. This, of course, calls into question the reliability of her testimony in trials and her integrity as a firearms expert.
In a variety of criminal cases involving firearms, the State may elect to have an expert testify about the gun that was allegedly used by the defendant. In Florida, this person may be a firearms examiner from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In Georgia, it is often a firearms examiner from the GBI. The State will put on the examiner and ask questions about his/her education, training and experience with firearms generally, and the specific firearm(s) in question, as well as the number of times that person has testified as an expert in similar trials. All of this questioning is done to show the judge and the jury that the witness is an expert in firearms or the particular area about which he/she will be testifying. If the judge is satisfied that the witness has sufficient expertise in that area, the judge will officially qualify the witness as an expert and instruct the jury accordingly.
Juries in criminal (and other) cases often put extra emphasis on a witness’s testimony after the judge has proclaimed that he/she is qualified to testify as an expert. If that “expert” witness’s testimony later turns out to be flawed, it calls into question the legitimacy of any conviction in any trial in which that witness testified. Even if the problem with the testimony did not necessarily relate to material evidence affecting the defendant’s guilt, when a witness the State and the judge indicate to a jury is an expert witness is found to have lied about his/her expertise or testing methods, it raises serious doubts about the integrity of the criminal justice system that needs to be closely examined. Convictions in trials where this witness testified may need to be challenged.