The Daubert Standard—Understanding Florida’s Rule on the Admissibility of Expert Testimony
An expert witness is a person (usually a professional) who has a specialized skill or specialized knowledge. They are qualified to help judges and/or juries evaluate the meaning and implications of factual evidence. Expert testimony matters. Indeed, an expert witness in Florida family law can have a significant influence on the court’s decision.
That being said, you cannot simply call any expert witness you want to testify in a case. In a Florida family law dispute, a court will only allow an expert witness to testify if the Daubert standard is satisfied. In this article, our Florida family law consulting team provides an overview of the Daubert standard.
The Daubert Standard: Explained
As described by the Cornell Legal Information Institute, the Daubert standard is a legal test that a trial judge uses to determine whether or not an expert testimony is reasonably sound and applicable to the facts at hand. The purpose of the Daubert standard is relatively straightforward: Courts want to keep out unreliable or inapplicable expert testimony. Under the standard, “pure opinion” is not admissible. Instead, parties seeking to introduce an expert witness in a family law case must prove the following three things:
- The testimony is supported by facts and data;
- The expert witness uses reliable principles and methods; and
- The principles and methods can be applied to the facts at hand.
In other words, the Daubert standard is the legal system’s attempt to ensure that expert testimony is reliable. As expert witnesses can be extremely influential, Florida judges do not want to allow unreliable testimony into the record.
Expert Testimony Can Be Challenged
Each party to a family law case has a right to challenge the opposition’s attempt to bring in an expert witness. By raising a Daubert challenge, a party may be able to keep opposing expert testimony out of court. To do so, they must file a challenge and then prove that the witness’s methodology and reasoning are not scientific or that their expertise cannot reasonably be applied to the facts of the case.
Florida Only Recently Adopted the Daubert Standard
The Daubert standard is contrasted with the alternative Frye standard. For many years, Florida used the Frye standard. Indeed, it was not until 2019 that the Florida Supreme Court finally clarified that Daubert (not Frye) is the appropriate legal standard for expert testimony in the state.
The core difference between the Daubert standard and the Frye standard is that Daubert makes the judge and not the scientific community the gatekeeper of evidence. Currently, the Daubert standard is used in federal court and in many state courts. Though, certain states still use the Frye standard.
Speak to an Attorney in Clearwater, Florida
At the Law Office of Gale H. Moore P.A., we provide Florida family law expert witness & consulting services. Certified in Family Law by the Florida Bar Association, Gale H. Moore has more than two decades of relevant professional experience and expertise. Contact our largo office today to learn more about how we can help.