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Florida Supreme Court Rejects Daubert

On February 16, 2017 the Florida Supreme Court recommended that the Court not adopt the Daubert standard to replace the Frye standard for admitting expert opinion evidence. Under the Daubert standard, the judge has authority to exclude an expert’s opinion even if the expert had used reliable and accepted methodology, if the judge determined the expert’s conclusions were unsupported by his or her methodology. Under the Frye standard, courts, “in admitting expert testimony deduced from a well-recognized scientific principle or discovery,” must ensure that “the thing from which the deduction is made [is] sufficiently established to have gained general acceptance in the particular field in which it belongs.” Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013, 1014 (D.C. Cir. 1923). Frye allows the jury, rather than the judge, to determine the reliability of the expert testimony.

Daubert is still the standard under the Federal Rules of Evidence and was only adopted by the Florida legislature in 2013. The Court sited to constitutional concerns in declining to adopt the proposed amendments to the Evidence Code. Particularly that the Daubert standard undermines the right to a jury trial and denies access to the courts. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, a Judge in the 13th Circuit held that Daubert will be considered substantive law unless and until it is found to be unconstitutional. Thus, it appears that the Supreme Court’s majority decision is being met with mixed reactions that will undoubtedly be addressed in the months to come. Read the opinion here.

By: SEB

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