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United States v. Sanyaolu

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

March 30, 2017




         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Olu Kanni Sanyaolu's (“Defendant”) Motion in Limine to Exclude Fingerprint Evidence and for a Daubert Hearing [49] (“Motion”).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts

         On April 12, 2016, a grand jury in the Northern District of Georgia returned a three-count Indictment [1] against Defendant, charging Defendant, in Count One, with knowingly procuring, contrary to law, naturalization and citizenship in the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1425(a). The Government later dismissed Counts Two and Three. ([26], [27]).

         On or about April 8, 1998, Defendant, who is a native of Nigeria, was granted asylum in the United States. In 2009, Defendant petitioned for citizenship through naturalization, and, on or about July 20, 2009, citizenship was granted. In March 2014, Defendant traveled to Nigeria. On his way back, on April 21, 2014, Defendant arrived at the Houston International Airport. In the Customs inspections area, an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (“AFIS”) fingerprint examination of Defendant determined that he was linked to two fingerprint identification numbers-one for him, and another for Kunle Olukanni. The Olukanni immigration file shows that, in 1992, Mr. Olukanni applied for asylum in New York, which was denied in September 1994. Mr. Olukanni's wife then petitioned for adjustment of his status, and Mr. Olukanni filed a concurrent application to register permanent residence or to adjust status. The applications also did not result in a grant of lawful immigration. As a result, on July 23, 1998, Mr. Olukanni was ordered to be deported from the United States.

         On June 17, 2015, Homeland Security Fingerprint Specialist Dean Roan issued a laboratory report regarding comparisons of fingerprint cards submitted by Defendant and those submitted by Mr. Olukanni. Mr. Roan determined that the fingerprint impressions on the cards were made by the same person. Mr. Roan's one-page report does not describe the methodology that he used to reach his conclusion that the “fingerprint impressions . . . were made by one and the same person.” ([49.1]).

         B. Procedural History

         On January 9, 2017, Defendant filed his Motion, seeking to exclude the presentation of Mr. Roan's fingerprint evidence or, in the alternative, for a Daubert[1] hearing prior to trial to determine admissibility of the fingerprint evidence. Defendant argues that he has received no evidence beyond Mr. Roan's one-page report regarding the fingerprint comparisons at issue in this case, and that this information is insufficient to meet the admissibility standards set forth in the Federal Rules of Evidence and in Daubert.

         In its response [51], the Government includes Mr. Roan's CV, and also presents a summary of Mr. Roan's experience and his expected testimony. The Government represents that, before testifying about the particular fingerprints at issue in this case, Mr. Roan will provide an overview regarding the characteristics of fingerprints, how fingerprint exemplars may be obtained, and the methodology that he follows to conduct analysis of fingerprint samples. In particular, Mr. Roan is expected to testify regarding the ACE-V methodology for comparing fingerprint samples. Mr. Roan will then describe the fingerprint cards from Defendant and Mr. Olukanni, the methodology of comparison that he used to analyze these fingerprint cards, and his conclusions regarding the fingerprint impressions on the cards.[2]


         Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, expert testimony is admissible if: (1) the expert is qualified to testify regarding the subject matter of her testimony; (2) the methodology that the expert used to reach his or her conclusions is sufficiently reliable; and (3) the expert's testimony will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or in determining a fact at issue. United States v. Scott, 403 F.App'x 392, 397 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing United States v. Frazier, 387 F.3d 1244, 1260 (11th Cir. 2004)) (en banc); Fed.R.Evid. 702. The Government has the burden to meet each of the requirements of admissibility. See Scott, 403 F.App'x at 397-98.

         The second prong requires the district court to make a preliminary determination whether the expert's methodology is reliable. Scott, 403 F.App'x at 397. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 (1993), the Supreme Court ...

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