Changes in the Standards for Admitting Expert Evidence

by Lloyd Dixon, Brian Gill

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This research brief describes work documented in Changes in the Standards for Admitting Expert Evidence in Federal Civil Cases Since the Daubert Decision (MR-1439-ICJ).

Excerpt: Expert evidence, which often plays a critical role in the outcome of civil litigation, has long been a subject of controversy in the legal community. For many years, judges relied largely on two standards to determine whether expert evidence should be admitted into a trial: whether the evidence was relevant to the case and whether the evidence was generally accepted in the expert community. But as the importance of scientific evidence increased, observers began criticizing the relevance standard for letting into evidence too much "junk science" without a solid basis and leaving it up to the jury to assess its scientific reliability. Others argued that the general acceptance standard excluded novel expert evidence that was actually quite reliable.

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