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Daubert Standard

The Daubert Standard (also referred to as the “Daubert Test”) is a method that the courts use to determine whether expert testimony is admissible. It came about because Federal Rule of Evidence 702 generally requires that expert testimony consist of scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge that legitimately will help the fact finder (jury or judge) understand the evidence or the issues in a case. The Daubert standard applies to both civil and criminal cases. The Daubert standard is raised when a party believes that the other side is relying on “junk science” to prove their point.

To challenge a potential expert witness' testimony, the opposing party brings a “Daubert Motion,” This forces the expert's party to prove that the expert is basing his or her opinion on legitimate scientific principles. During the “Daubert Hearing,” which is usually conducted before trial (a jury is not present), the court considers a variety of factors to determine whether the expert's testimony will be admissible, including:

  • Whether the expert's theory has been tested
  • Whether the expert's theory has been subjected to peer review (the review of other experts in the field) or has been published
  • Whether there are standards that control the theory's operation
  • Whether the theory has known or potential rate of error and what it is
  • To what degree the relevant scientific community has accepted the theory.
Because of the Daubert standard, forensic facial reconstruction is generally not admissible for positive identification in a murder case. The term “Daubert standard” comes from Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, a United States Supreme Court case, which is considered by some as one of the most important cases of the 21st century.