There are many controversial issues that the Florida Supreme Court will be dealing with in the year 2017 that many attorneys will be watching. Some of these debatable issues could possibly make or break an attorney’s current case. One issue the Florida Supreme Court is focusing on is a change by the Florida Legislature to bring state court standards for the admissibility of expert witnesses in line with federal courts.
The Daubert standard is a standard used by a trial judge to make a preliminary assessment of whether an expert’s scientific testimony is based on reasoning or methodology that is scientifically valid and can properly be applied to the facts at issue. Under this standard, the factors that may be considered in determining whether the methodology is valid are: (1) whether the theory or technique in question can be and has been tested; (2) whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication; (3) its known or potential error rate; (4) the existence and maintenance of standards controlling its operation; and (5) whether it has attracted widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).
Those in opposition debate that the Daubert standard that is used in federal courts as well as many states around the country, heightens costs and adds taxes to an already overwhelmed state court system. Supports say it’s necessary to ensure that only true experts in their fields can testify.
The Daubert standard was adopted by Florida Lawmakers in 2013. The Frye standard was then discontinued, which calls for a judge to gauge whether to allow expert testimony based only on whether it represents principles that have gained “general acceptance” in a witness’s particular field.
“Florida is pretty unique,” Holland & Knight LLP’s Bill Shepherd said. “Florida has this Frye pure opinion component where if you’re an expert you can testify to your pure opinion.” The Daubert standard has been in place in the state courts since the legislation was enacted, and Shepherd said so far, there has been no evidence of strains on court budgets because of special Daubert hearings. Shepherd, a former state prosecutor, stated the issue will have the greatest impact on criminal cases, which make up the bulk of cases that go to trial.
Want to read up on this issue further? The matter is In Re: Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code, case number SC16-181, in the Supreme Court of Florida.
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