Sunday, December 22, 2013

Daubert Standard Definition

The Daubert test for admissibility of scientific evidence, or Daubert Standard, provides a rule of evidence having to do with admissibility of expert witnesses' testimony during United States federal legal proceedings.

In accordance with the standard, a party may raise a Daubert motion, which is a special case of motion in limine raised before or during trial, allowing the exclusion of the presentation of unqualified evidence to the jury.


  • The Judge is the Gatekeeper:  According to Rule 702, the task of gatekeeping, or assuring that the scientific testimony proceeds from actual scientific knowledge rests on the trial judge.
  • Reliance and reliability of evidence: This requires the trial judge to ensure that the testimony from an expert is relevant to the task at hand and also requires the judge to ensure that the evidence rests on a reliable foundation.  Concerns about expert testimony cannot simply be referred to the jury as a question of weight.  Expert testimony is governed by Rule 104(a), therefore the judge must find it more likely than not that the expert's methods are reliable and that they are reliably applied to the facts at hand.
  • Scientific knowledge equals scientific method or methodology:  A conclusion will qualify as scientific knowledge if the proponent is able to demonstrate that it is the result of sound scientific methodology which is derived from the scientific method.
  • Relevant Factors:  Scientific methodology is defined by the court as the process of formulating hypotheses and then conducting experiments which prove or falsify the hypothesis, and then provided a non-dispositive, nonexclusive, "flexible" set of general observations (not a test) that it considered relevant for establishing the validity of scientific testimony.
  1. Empirical testing: whether or not the theory or technique is falsifiable, refutable, and/or testable.
  2. Whether the theory has been subjected to peer review and publication.
  3. The known or potential rate of error.
  4. The existence and maintenance of standards and controls that concern its operation.
  5. The degree to which the theory and the technique is generally accepted by the relevant scientific community.
In 2011, Rule 702 was amended in order to make the language clearer. The rule states:
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.
(As amended Apr. 17, 2000, eff. Dec. 1, 2000; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011)

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