State v. Orme, 082019 NHSC, 2018-0284

Docket Nº:2018-0284
Party Name:State of New Hampshire v. Jon Orme
Judge Panel:HICKS, BASSETT, and DONOVAN, JJ., concurred.
Case Date:August 20, 2019
Court:Supreme Court of New Hampshire

State of New Hampshire


Jon Orme

No. 2018-0284

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

August 20, 2019


The defendant, Jon Orme, appeals his convictions, following a jury trial, of possession of carfentanil with intent to sell and possession of cocaine with intent to sell. See RSA 318-B:2, I (2017). He argues that the Superior Court (Abramson and Messer, JJ.) erred in: (1) admitting a police officer's testimony that items found during a search of his apartment were indicative of drug dealing; and (2) denying his motion to sever a felon in possession charge from the two drug-related charges. He also argues that the court may have erred in failing to disclose information it reviewed in camera. We affirm.

The record shows that the police obtained a warrant to search the apartment where the defendant was living, based upon information that he was selling fentanyl and other narcotics from that location. When the police executed the search warrant, they found the defendant sitting in a chair in the living room surrounded by several tables. On and near the tables, the officers found several baggies and containers of drugs. They also found a digital scale, empty plastic baggies, needles, spoons, cotton swabs, and two shotgun shells. In the corner of the living room, behind the defendant's chair, the police found $10, 413 in cash, which was stowed in a black pistol case and in rolls inside a sock. In the kitchen, in a drawer below the oven, the officers found a sawed-off shotgun. The police seized over five grams of carfentanil and cocaine from the living room. They found $625 in cash on the defendant's person.

The defendant first argues that the trial court erred in admitting testimony from Officer Dubois that the items found during the search were indicative of drug dealing, rather than drug use. The State does not challenge the court's ruling that the officer's testimony constituted expert testimony; therefore, we will assume, without deciding, that it was expert testimony. "The decision to admit expert testimony rests, in the first instance, within the sound discretion of the trial court." State v. Gay, 169 N.H. 232, 249 (2016) (quotation omitted). We will reverse the trial court's ruling only if the defendant demonstrates that it was untenable or unreasonable to the prejudice of his case. Id. at 249-50.

Under New Hampshire Rule of Evidence 702: A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:

(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;

(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;

(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and

(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

Dubois, a fifteen-year veteran of the police department, testified that he had extensive experience and training in the narcotics field, having participated in hundreds of drug investigations...

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