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The Daubert Standard

A trial seems straight forward on TV. And many of them are. A simple matter of evidence and the presumption of innocence and a panel of jurors listening to see if one overcomes the other.

Some cases, however, are more complicated. Perhaps there needs to be expert testimony. Section 90.702 of the Florida Evidence Code states “If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or in determining a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify about it in the form of an opinion or otherwise, 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.”

What’s important and special about expert witnesses is that they’re able to give their opinion. No other witness can do that. A witness may testify about what they know – what they saw or experienced firsthand. But an expert witness may testify about their impressions and ideas.

In May of this year the Florida Supreme Court shifted to the Daubert standard of determining the admissibility of expert testimony. Daubert is a 1993 US Supreme Court case creating a 5-prong analysis of expert testimony. Testimony that cannot pass the Daubert test will not be allowed as evidence in court.

These are important and complicated issues. For years Florida followed a different, looser, standard of expert evidence. This is yet another reason that you must have a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer in your corner when you go to court. Call Dunham and Ingram today.