• 107328  Infos

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 witness's testimony during legal proceedings The citation is ''Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals'' 509 US 579 (1993)
    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

    Definition

    For a judge to accept an expert witness's testimony the testimony itself has to pass two tests:
    • The reliability prong:
      • Empirical testing: the theory or technique must be falsifiable refutable and testable
      • Subjected to peer review and publication
      • Known or potential error rate
      • Whether there are standards controlling the technique's operations
      • Expert's qualifications
      • Technique and its results be described with plain meaning
    • The relevancy prong

    The relevancy of a testimony is subject to the type of the question For example you may invite an astronomer to tell the jury if it was a full moon on the night of a crime You will not be allowed to use that expert to tell the jury that the defendant went lunatic because of that unfortunate moon phase The judge must act as a gatekeeper to rule out bad testimony
    Once certain evidence has been excluded by a Daubert motion because it is not reliable it will unlikely be used 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 will usually follow that precedent

    History

    The Daubert ruling substitutes a reliability test for a relevancy test proposed under the Frye Standard That citation is Frye v. United States 293 F. 1013 (DC Cir 1923)
    Under Frye when novel scientific evidence is at issue the Frye inquiry allows the judiciary to defer to scientific expertise precisely as to whether or not it has gained "general acceptance" in the relevant field The trial court's gatekeeper role in this respect is conservative thus helping to keep pseudoscience out of the courtroom
    Under Daubert "scientific knowledge" must be derived from the scientific method supported by "good grounds" in validating the expert's testimony establishing a standard of "evidentiary reliability"

    Story

    In the Daubert case Merrell Dow was sued by a mother whose baby had a congenital disorder That mother had taken Bendectin an anti-nausea drug made by Merrell Dow during her pregnancy 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
    The court granted for Merrell 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 The Court also has found that Daubert's experts recalculated data obtained from journal articles However their findings were neither published nor subjected to peer review This makes their conclusions not acceptable according to this standard

    External links