After previously rejecting the Daubert standard in accordance with the recommendation of the Florida State Bar, the Supreme Court of Florida has now adopted the Daubert standard for the admissibility of expert testimony, replacing the Frye standard. This new decision will affect the admissibility of expert testimony in state courts only – federal courts across the country, including in Florida, already apply the Daubert standard.
What is the Daubert Standard?
The Daubert Standard is a procedure used by courts to assess whether expert testimony should be admitted in a case. This criterion applies to both civil and criminal cases, and it may be invoked if one of the parties feels that the other side is employing “junk science” to prove their case.
On July 1, 2013, the State of Florida passed a bill to use the Daubert standard as the basis for expert witness testimony. The Daubert rule was accepted by the Florida Supreme Court on May 23, 2019.
Prior to Daubert, trial judges frequently encouraged juries to hear evidence provided by both sides rather than excluding it. When evidence is challenged in another trial after it has been ruled irrelevant and unreliable due to a Daubert motion, it will likely be contested once again. A Daubert motion is only persuasive to other judges. Despite the fact that a Daubert motion is not binding to other courts if one court determines something to be untrustworthy, subsequent judges may do so as well. Of course, an appellate court’s decision that a piece of evidence is inadmissible under Daubert would be binding on all lower courts.
Under the Daubert standard, a “judge must ensure that any and all scientific testimony or evidence admitted is not only relevant but reliable.” By adopting the Daubert standard, there will be more consistency between state and federal courts, which are now operating under the same standard.
Previously, under the Frye ruling, when a party was seeking to admit evidence, they were only required to establish general acceptance of the underlying scientific principle and testing procedures. Now, the admissibility is within the discretion of the court, but the judge must determine that the evidence is reliable – meaning Florida state courts are now operating under a more stringent rule for the admissibility of expert testimony.
While this changes the admissibility of expert testimony in state courts, our attorneys at Bennett Legal Group are well versed in the Daubert standard as we have used that standard for many years in Federal Court cases.