In cases involving scientific or novel evidence, defendants have long been at a disadvantage in Florida due to its very liberal application of the Frye standard. It appears this is about to change.
On April 26, both houses of the Florida Legislature voted to shift the state's 90-year reliance on the Frye standard for evaluating the admissibility of expert witness testimony to the Daubert standard currently used in federal courts and numerous states.
The Florida House of Representatives, which had already approved an earlier version of H.B. 7065, ended its week by passing an amended version remanded by the state Senate. The upper chamber's favorable vote appeared likely, but not certain, after senators approved a strike-all amendment to the bill Thursday. Still, by a vote of 30–9, the Florida Senate voted in favor of adopting the Daubert standard.
Under the new rule, a witness would be able to testify as an expert in a particular field only if the testimony “is based upon sufficient facts or data; the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.”
This would be a significant shift away from the Frye standard, which the Florida Supreme Court has interpreted in recent years to be a virtual open door to any scientific evidence. If the bill – which received a final 70–14 vote from the House – is signed into law, the changeover to the Daubert standard will go into effect July 1, 2013, and would likely apply to pending cases.