Expert Evidence

In short, Daubert requires the judge to act as a gatekeeper--letting reliable and relevant science in and keeping the rest out

The role of expert evidence in civil litigation is growing, and so is the concern that the U.S. civil legal system does not produce just outcomes in cases involving such evidence. In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court's Daubert decision shifted the question of what is admissible evidence away from what is generally accepted in the scientific community. Critics argue that judges and juries do not have the training to evaluate scientific information properly and that "bad" science is unduly influencing their decisions. Others worry that clumsy efforts to screen expert evidence can wrongly exclude novel science.

ICJ research examined the effects of this ruling on federal civil cases since 1993. The findings show that judges have been taking their new role seriously and applying stricter standards to determine what sort of expert evidence is admissible. The analysis also found that plaintiffs and defendants have responded to the change in admiissibility standards.

In future research, the ICJ hopes to examine the use of scientific evidence in state courts.