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What is the Daubert Standard?

Also known as the "Daubert Test," the Daubert Standard is a method used by courts to determine whether or not expert testimony should be admissible at trial. This standard applies to both civil and criminal cases, and can be raised when either the defendant or plaintiff believes that the other side is using "junk science" to prove their point. When an expert witness is called to testify at trial, their opinion can have a significant impact on the jury's perception of the case, so it is important that their theories are backed by actual scientific evidence—rather than their own personal beliefs.

When this Standard Would Be Used in a Criminal Case

This standard came about because Federal Rule of Evidence 702 requires that expert testimony consist of scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge that legitimately helps the finder (jury or judge) understand the evidence or issues that have been raised in the case. If one side wishes to challenge an expert witness' testimony in a criminal case, they would file a "Daubert Motion." This forces the other side to prove that the expert is basing their opinion of legitimate scientific principles. During the Daubert Hearing, the court will determine whether or not the testimony will be admissible.

Some of the factors that the court will consider include:

  • Has the expert's theory ever been tested?
  • Has the expert's theory been reviewed by their peers?
  • Are there standards that control the theory's operation?
  • Does the theory have a known or potential rate of error?
  • Has the scientific community accepted the expert's theory?
  • Have the expert's findings ever been published?

The term "Daubert Standard" comes from the case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals—which is a United States Supreme Court case that is considered by some as one of the most important cases of the 21st century. In fact, because of the Daubert Standard, forensic facial reconstruction evidence is generally not admissible in murder trials as a way of positively identifying the defendant. If you have further questions, are you are wondering how this standard could apply to your criminal case, contact Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners for a free initial consultation.