Daubert Motions Allow Unqualified Evidence to Be Presented to Juries

March 23, 2012 — 1,172 views  

People lacking a legal background may ignore Daubert motions, but the action can play an important role in court proceedings. You can use a Daubert motion to exclude unqualified evidence from being presented to a jury, which may impact a verdict.

The Supreme Court case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals helped establish these motions. The 1993 proceedings involved two children and their parents who alleged that they were victims of serious birth defects caused by a prescription drug marketed by Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals. The petitioners responded with testimony from field experts who provided chemical analyses. However, the court determined this evidence was not allowed because it did not meet the court's general acceptance standard.

The guideline, also known as the Frye standard, verifies the credibility of scientific evidence in court proceedings. Evidence that is generally accepted by the relevant scientific community is permissible in trials. The Daubert case established trial judges as gatekeepers of this regulation, and gives them the opportunity to accept or deny the submission of this type of expert evidence. 

Rule 702 gives judges guidelines they can follow to determine the admissibility of evidence. A witness can be considered an expert if the testimony is based on facts and data, and is the product of reliable methods and techniques. In addition, a person must provide information based on reliable principles, and must display knowledge to determine a relevant fact or issue.