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27129 - State v. Tapp
27129 - State v. Tapp

Upon the State's request for certiorari to review the court of appeals' decision in State v. Tapp, 387 S.C. 159, 691 S.E.2d 165 (Ct. App. 2010), this Court reverses the court of appeals and reinstates Respondent's convictions. The court of appeals found that the record was insufficient to determine whether the circuit judge properly considered the reliability of Special Agent Prodan's testimony prior to introducing that testimony to the jury, as required by State v. White, 382 S.C. 265, 676 S.E.2d 684 (2009). While the court of appeals correctly held that White, decided while Respondent's appeal was pending, governs this case, the Court clarifies that White stands for the proposition that the expertise, reliability, and the ability of the testimony to assist the trier of fact are all threshold determinations to be made prior to the admission of expert testimony, and generally, a witness's expert status will be determined prior to determining the reliability of the testimony. The circuit judge erred in failing to consider the reliability of Prodan's testimony prior to admitting it into evidence. However, any error in admitting the testimony was harmless.