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Encyclopedia > Daubert Standard

The Daubert Standard is a legal precedent set in 1993 by the Supreme Court of the United States regarding the admissibility of expert witnesses' testimony during legal proceedings. The citation is Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993). In law, a precedent or authority is a legal case establishing a principle or rule that a court may need to adopt when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts. ... 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and marked the Beginning of the International Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (1993-2003). ... The supreme court functions as a court of last resort whose rulings cannot be challenged, in some countries, provinces and states. ... An expert witness is a witness, who by virtue of education, or profession, or experience, is believed to have special knowledge of his subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon his opinion. ... In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. ... A citation is a credit or reference to another document or source which documents both influence and authority. ... Holding The Federal Rules of Evidence do not require that techniques relied upon in expert testimony have general professional acceptance or have been subjected to peer review for that testimony to be judged reliable and admissible at trial. ... 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and marked the Beginning of the International Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (1993-2003). ...


A Daubert motion is a motion, raised before or during trial, to exclude the presentation of unqualified evidence to the jury. This is a special case of motion in limine, usually used to exclude the testimony of an expert witness who has no such expertise or used questionable methods to obtain the information. This article is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... In legal parlance, a trial is an event in which parties to a dispute present information (in the form of evidence) in a formal setting, usually a court, before a judge, jury, or other designated finder of fact, in order to achieve a resolution to their dispute. ... The law of evidence governs the use of testimony (e. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Motion in limine (Latin: at the outset) is a motion, raised before or during trial, to exclude the presentation of certain evidence to the jury. ... In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. ... An expert witness is a witness, who by virtue of education, or profession, or experience, is believed to have special knowledge of his subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon his opinion. ...

Contents

Definition

In Daubert, the Supreme Court ordered federal trial judges to become the “gatekeepers” of scientific evidence. Trial judges now must evaluate proffered expert witnesses to determine whether their testimony is both “relevant” and “reliable”; a two-pronged test of admissibility.

  • The relevancy prong: The relevancy of a testimony refers to whether or not the expert’s evidence “fits” the facts of the case. For example, you may invite an astronomer to tell the jury if it was a full moon on the night of a crime. However, the astronomer would not be allowed to testify if the fact that the moon was full was not relevant to the issue at hand in the trial.
  • The reliability prong: The Supreme Court explained that in order for expert testimony to be considered reliable, the expert must have derived his or her conclusions from the scientific method. The Court offered "general observations" of whether proffered evidence was based on the scientific method, although the list was not intended to be used as an exacting checklist:
    • Empirical testing: the theory or technique must be falsifiable, refutable, and testable.
    • Subjected to peer review and publication.
    • Known or potential error rate and the existence and maintenance of standards concerning its operation.
    • Whether the theory and technique is generally accepted by a relevant scientific community.

Although trial judges have always had the authority to exclude inappropriate testimony, previous to Daubert, trial courts often preferred to let juries hear evidence proffered by both sides.[1] Once certain evidence has been excluded by a Daubert motion because it fails to meet the relevancy and reliability standard, it will likely be challenged when introduced again in another trial. Even though a Daubert motion is not binding to other courts of law, if something was found not trustworthy, other judges may choose to follow that precedent. An astronomer or astrophysicist is a person whose area of interest is astronomy or astrophysics. ... Composite image of the Moon as taken by the Galileo spacecraft on 7 December 1992. ... This page discusses how a theory or assertion is falsifiable (disprovable opp: verifiable), rather than the non-philosophical use of falsification, meaning counterfeiting. ... Peer review (known as refereeing in some academic fields) is a scholarly process used in the publication of manuscripts and in the awarding of funding for research. ...


History

Prior to Daubert, relevancy in combination with the Frye test were the dominant standards for determining the admissibility of scientific evidence in Federal courts. Frye is based on a 1923 Federal Court of appeals ruling (Frye v. United States 293 F. 1013 (DC Cir. 1923)) involving the admissibility of polygraph evidence. Under Frye, the Court based the admissibility of testimony regarding novel scientific evidence on whether it has "gained general acceptance in the particular field in which it belongs." The trial court's gatekeeper role in this respect is typically described as conservative, thus helping to keep pseudoscience out of the courtroom by deferring to those in the field. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Polygraph results are sometimes recorded on a chart recorder A polygraph (commonly yet incorrectly referred to as a lie detector) is a device that measures and records several physiological variables such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration and skin conductivity while the subject is asked a series of questions. ... Phrenology is regarded today as a classic example of pseudoscience. ...


In Daubert, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1923 Frye test was superseded by the 1975 Federal Rules of Evidence, specifically Rule 702 governing expert testimony. Rule 702 originally stated (in its entirety), The Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) are the rules that govern the admissibility of evidence in the United States federal court system. ...

"If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise."

In Daubert, the Court ruled that nothing in the Federal Rules of Evidence governing expert evidence "gives any indication that 'general acceptance' is a necessary precondition to the admissibility of scientific evidence. Moreover, such a rigid standard would be at odds with the Rules' liberal thrust and their general approach of relaxing the traditional barriers to 'opinion' testimony." However, some legal commentators argue that Daubert has resulted in a more conservative rather than liberal standard regarding the admissibility of expert evidence.


The Daubert standard was refined by two additional Supreme Court rulings; together known as the "Daubert trilogy." In Joiner (General Electric Co. v. Joiner, 522 US 136 (1997)), the Supreme Court held that an abuse of discretion standard of review was the proper standard for appellate courts to use in reviewing a trial court's decision of whether expert testimony should be admitted. Thus, appellate courts must defer to the lower trial courts decision regarding the admissibility of expert testimony unless they are strikingly wrong. In Kumho Tire, (Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael 526 U.S. 137 (1999)), the Supreme Court held that the judge’s gatekeeping function identified in Daubert applies to all expert testimony, including that which is non-scientific.


In 2000, the Supreme Court approved amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence relating to opinion evidence and expert testimony to conform to the "Daubert trilogy." In addition to amending Rules 701 and 703, Rule 702 now includes the additional provisions which state that a witness may only testify if, "1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data 2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and 3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case."


Facts and Procedural History

In the Daubert case, Merrell Dow was sued by a mother whose baby Jason Daubert had a congenital disorder. He was born in 1974 having only two fingers on his right hand and without a lower bone on his right arm. His mother had taken Bendectin, an anti-nausea drug made by Merrell Dow, during her pregnancy. The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW TYO: 4850 ) is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Midland, Michigan. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... A congenital disorder is a medical condition that is present at birth. ... Bendectin, (known as Debendox® in the UK) is a mixture of pyridoxine (Vitamin B-6), and doxylamine, is a drug prescribed to treat nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness. ... For the Beck song, see Nausea (song). ... A pregnant woman near the end of her term Pregnancy is the carrying of one or more embryos or fetuses by female mammals, including humans, inside their bodies. ...


Bendectin had been introduced in 1957 to alleviate nausea associated with pregnancy and over the next quarter-century used by more than 33 million women all over the world. A significant number of children born to these women suffered birth defects, and the drug's manufacturer—Merrell National Laboratories and its successor Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals found itself involved in over a thousand lawsuits, the first major one of which was filed in 1977. Another family, the Schullers, brought a less widely known case against Merrell Dow. Their child, Eric Schuller, also of San Diego, was born in 1981 without a left hand and with one leg shorter than the other.


Merrell Dow moved for summary judgment, claiming Bendectin had not caused the child's disorder. In the affidavit authored by Dr. Steven H. Lamm, the author testified that he had reviewed multiple published human studies and concluded the use of Bendectin during the first trimester of pregnancy was not supposed to be a health risk. In response to Merrell Dow's affidavit, the plaintiff presented eight affidavits solely based on animal testings, claiming the existence of a link between Bendectin and animal birth defects. Summary judgment is a legal term which means that a court has made a determination (a judgment) without a full trial. ... An affidavit is a formal sworn statement of fact, signed by the declarant (who is called the affiant), and witnessed (as to the veracity of the affiants signature) by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public. ... Trinomial name Homo sapiens sapiens Linnaeus, 1758 Humans, or human beings, are bipedal primates belonging to the mammalian species Homo sapiens (Latin: wise man or knowing man) under the family Hominidae (the great apes). ... The human gestation period of approximately 40 weeks between the time of the last menstrual cycle and delivery is traditionally divided into three periods of three months, or trimesters. ... A plaintiff, also known as a claimant or complainer, is the party who initiates a lawsuit (also known as an action) before a court. ... Enos the space chimp before insertion into the Mercury-Atlas 5 capsule in 1961. ...


The court granted summary judgment for Merrell Dow and dismissed the case, finding Daubert's experts relied on evidence "not sufficiently established to have general acceptance in the field to which it belongs." The Court held that expert opinion which is not based on data from the field of epidemiology concerning Bendectin is not admissible to raise an issue regarding causation (in law) to the jury. In addition, the Court also ruled that although Daubert's experts recalculated data obtained from previously published epidemiologic studies, their findings were not considered admissible because they were neither published nor subjected to peer review. The plaintiffs appealed the decision, and, in due course, the case reached the U. S. Supreme Court Summary judgment is a legal term which means that a court has made a determination (a judgment) without a full trial. ... Epidemiology is the study of factors affecting the health and illness of populations, and serves as the foundation and logic of interventions made in the interest of public health and preventive medicine. ... This article is about causality as it is used in many different fields. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Peer review (known as refereeing in some academic fields) is a scholarly process used in the publication of manuscripts and in the awarding of funding for research. ...


The Supreme Court did not apply their new Daubert standard to the case, but rather reversed the decision and remanded the case to the Ninth Circuit court. On remand, the Ninth Circuit applied the Daubert standard and again granted summary judgment for the defendant. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the following United States district courts: District of Alaska District of Arizona Central, Eastern, Northern, and Southern Districts of California District of Guam District of Hawaii District of Idaho District of Montana... A prisoner who is denied, refused or unable to meet the conditions of bail, or who is unable to post bail, may be held in a prison on remand until their criminal trial. ... Summary judgment is a legal term which means that a court has made a determination (a judgment) without a full trial. ...


Commentary

The Daubert decision was heralded by many observers as one of the most important Supreme Court decisions of the last century imparting crucial legal reforms to reduce the volume of what has disparagingly been labeled junk science in the court room. Many of these individuals were convinced by Peter Huber’s 1991 book Galileo’s Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom[2] which argued that numerous product liability and toxic tort verdicts were unjustly made on the basis of junk science. According to Huber, junk science in the courts threatened not only justice but the workings of the American economy. This threat rested on two premises: 1) juries are not competent to recognize flaws in scientific testimony, especially toxic tort or product liability suits where decisions on causation rested on complex scientific issues; and 2) the result of junk science is the issuance of awards that deter manufacturers from introducing worthwhile products into the marketplace out of fear of unwarranted tort liability for injuries their products have not caused.[3] By requiring experts to provide relevant opinions grounded in reliable methodology, proponents of Daubert were satisfied that these standards would result in a fair and rational resolution of the scientific and technological issues which lie at the heart of product liability adjudication.[4] Junk or bunk science is a term used to describe purportedly scientific data, research, analyses or claims which are perceived to be driven by political, financial or other questionable motives. ... Product liability encompasses a number of legal claims that allow an injured party to recover financial compensation from the manufacturer or seller of a product. ... // What is a toxic tort? A toxic tort is a special type of personal injury lawsuit in which the plaintiff claims that exposure to a chemical caused the plaintiffs toxic injury or disease. ...


According to a 2002 RAND study, post Daubert, the percentage of expert testimony by scientists that was excluded from the courtroom significantly rose. This rise likely contributed to a doubling in successful motions for summary judgment in which 90% were against plaintiffs.[5] Beyond this study, there is little empirical evidence of the impact of Daubert. However, some critics argue that Daubert has disrupted the balance between plaintiffs and defendants, “The exclusion of expert testimony affects plaintiffs far more than defendants because plaintiffs may then not be able to meet their required burden of proof. Furthermore, there is little point in plaintiffs going to the expense of Daubert motions to exclude defendant’s experts until they know if their case will proceed. So if more experts are now being excluded, then Daubert has undoubtedly shifted the balance between plaintiffs and defendants and made it more difficult for plaintiffs to litigate successfully.”[1] The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit global policy think tank first formed to offer research and analysis to the United States armed forces. ... In the common law, burden of proof is the obligation to prove allegations which are presented in a legal action. ...


A different pattern has emerged in criminal cases. In criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden of proof and uses a host of forensic science methods as evidence to prove their case. But, Daubert motions are rarely made by criminal defendants and when they do, they lose a majority of the challenges.[6] [7]


Some commentators believe that Daubert caused judges to become--in the phrase used in former Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s dissent in Daubert--amateur scientists; many lacking the scientific literacy to effectively fulfill their role as gatekeeper of scientific evidence.[8] Although “science for judges” forums have emerged in the wake of Daubert in order to educate judges in a variety of scientific fields, critics remain critical about the usefulness of the Daubert standard in discerning valid science.[9] [10] [11]


To summarize, five cardinal points Daubert asks from every new technique to be admissible in court are:


1. Has the technique been tested in actual field conditions (and not just in a laboratory)? [e.g. fingerprinting has been extensively tested and verified not only in laboratory conditions, but even in actual criminal cases. So it is admissible. Polygraphy on the other hand has been well tested in laboratories but not so well tested in field conditions]


2. Has the technique been subject to peer review and publication?


3. What is the known or potential rate of error? Is it zero, or low enough to be close to zero?


4. Do standards exist for the control of the technique's operation? [e.g. the use of penile plethysmography for sex offender risk assessment is being used by different workers according to their own standards. Thus penile plethysmography does not meet Daubert criteria]


5. Has the technique been generally accepted within the relevant scientific community? [this test was earlier the only relevant criteria under Frye.]


The Supreme Court explicitly cautioned that the Daubert list should not be regarded by judges as “a definitive checklist or test...” Yet in practice, many judges regularly exclude scientific evidence when they, assuming the role of "amateur scientist" determine it to be lacking on even a single Daubert point, instead of assessing the totality of such evidence.


References

  1. ^ a b Berger, Margaret A. (2005). "What Has a Decade of Daubert Wrought" (PDF). American Journal of Public Health 95(S1): S59. Retrieved on 2006-07-12. 
  2. ^ Huber, Peter W. (1991). Galileo’s Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-02623-0. 
  3. ^ Gottesman, M. (Fall 1998). "For Barefoot to Daubert to Joiner: Triple Play or Double Error?". Arizona Law Review 40: 753. 
  4. ^ Owen, DG (2002). "A Decade of Daubert". Denver University Law Review 80: 345. 
  5. ^ Dixon, L, Gill B. Changes in the Standards for Admitting Expert Evidence in Federal Civil Cases Since the Daubert Decision. RAND Institute for Civil Justice. 2002.
  6. ^ Risinger DM. Navigating Expert Reliability: Are Criminal Standards of Certainty Being Left on the Dock? Albany Law Review. 64, 2000.
  7. ^ Neufeld, P. The (Near) Irrelevance of Daubert to Criminal Justice and Some Suggestions for Reform, American Journal of Public Health. 95(S1); 2005: S107.
  8. ^ Gatowski SI et al. Asking the gatekeepers: A National Survey of Judges on Judging Expert Evidence in a Post-Daubert world, Law and Human Behavior. 25(5); 2001: 433.
  9. ^ Rothman KJ and Greenland S. Causation and Causal Inference in Epidemiology, American Journal of Public Health. 95(S1); 2005: S144.
  10. ^ Melnick R. A Daubert Motion: A Legal Strategy to Exclude Essential Scientific Evidence in Toxic Tort Litigation, American Journal of Public Health. 95(S1); 2005: S30.
  11. ^ Jasanoff S. Law’s Knowledge: Science for Justice in Legal Settings, American Journal of Public Health. 95(S1); 2005: S49.

For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ... July 12 is the 193rd day (194th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with 172 days remaining. ... Basic Books is a book publisher founded in 1952. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
interFIRE, A site dedicated to improving fire investigation worldwide. (5362 words)
That standard imposed a requirement that the data and methodology used by an expert in developing an opinion be of the kind "generally accepted" by other practitioners within that particular discipline.
Daubert was a case alleging that severe birth defects in a child had been caused by a mother's use of Bendectin, a "morning sickness" drug, during her pregnancy.
Daubert addresses the standards to be applied by a trial judge when faced with a proffer of expert scientific testimony based upon a novel theory or methodology.
EZGeography - Daubert Standard (578 words)
The Daubert Standard is a legal precedent set in 1993 by the Supreme Court of the United States regarding the admissibility of expert witness's testimony during legal procedings.
Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. Daubert motion is a motion, raised before or during trial, to exclude the presentation of unqualified evidence to the jury.
The court granted for Merrill Dow, finding Daubert's experts relied on evidence "not sufficiently established to have general acceptance in the field to which it belongs." Since there already were plenty of human data available, animal studies alone were not sufficient to raise an issue regarding causation to the jury.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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