Expert evidence reform supported by Lawyers for Civil Justice will be published for public comment in August
Arlington, VA – Lawyers for Civil Justice (LCJ) – Yesterday, the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure unanimously approved a proposed amendment to Federal Rule of Evidence 702 that would clarify the long-misinterpreted standards for expert evidence admissibility in U.S. federal courts. While Rule 702 has been the law on expert evidence, courts have frequently and inappropriately applied outdated “Daubert” case law to make these decisions. Lawyers for Civil Justice strongly supported the amendment to Rule 702, which would make clear that courts, not juries, are the gatekeepers for the admissibility of expert opinion into the courtroom. The proposed amendment would enforce the requirements of Rule 702 by requiring courts to decide whether an expert’s basis and application of methodology is sufficient for admissibility by a preponderance of the evidence, rather than leave such questions to the jury to determine the ‘weight’ of the expert’s testimony – a misunderstanding that has been perpetuated in hundreds of cases in the past five years alone.
Lawyers for Civil Justice General Counsel Alex Dahl issued the following statement after the Committee unanimously approved the proposed Rule 702 amendment for publication:
“We applaud the Committee’s decision to advance an important and long-overdue clarification to Federal Rule of Evidence 702, which will help bring greater consistency and fairness to our civil justice system. Many courts, both at the circuit and district levels, have routinely employed standards that plainly conflict with Rule 702, including determinations that an expert’s factual basis and application of methodology are matters of weight rather than admissibility. This amendment represents a critical course-correction to ensure that Rule 702 is correctly applied, and we look forward to additional feedback from the public when the comment period opens this fall.”
Upon the anticipated publication of the proposed amendment in August, the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules will hold a six-month public comment period, during which lawyers and other members of the public are invited to submit written comments and testify about the proposal.
To read the full text of the amendment, click here.