Status quo – lack of clarity regarding admissibility standards
- Rule 702 assigns federal district court judges the role of “gatekeepers” to ensure that expert testimony, which is essential in many types of litigation, is the product of sufficient data and reliable methods properly applied.
- Since the Supreme Court’s landmark 1993 decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, the word “Daubert” has become de facto shorthand for the standard by which expert evidence is evaluated for admissibility before a federal civil jury.
- In 2000, Rule 702 was amended with the goal of remedying widely differing approaches courts were taking under Daubert and its progeny. However, Rule 702’s requirements are largely misunderstood.
- The widespread misunderstanding and misapplication of expert evidence admissibility standards in both trial and appellate courts within every federal circuit has led to decisions that are patently incompatible with Rule 702.
- Unfortunately, the data demonstrate that federal judges frequently apply the incorrect standard. An LCJ survey shows that Federal Courts in 2020 applied the incorrect standard 882 times in 1,059 Rule 702 decisions.
Adhering to clear admissibility standards is key to the administration of justice, consistent with the law
- Ensuring that lawyers don’t present unreliable science to juries is important because fewer than four in ten Americans are classified as having “high science knowledge,” according to Pew Research.
- This problem has real-world consequences that can result in unjustified high-dollar verdicts when millions – or even billions – of dollars are on the line.