Witnesses called to testify as “experts” are cloaked with prestige and authority, and positioned to exert heavy influence on juries. This is accentuated with areas of expert testimony that are highly technical or specialized. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 595 (1993), that “[e]xpert evidence can be both powerful and quite misleading because of the difficulty in evaluating it.”
In Daubert, the United States Supreme Court created a seismic shift in the test for the admissibility of expert testimony. Daubert held that Congress’ adoption of the Federal Rules of Evidence displaces the general acceptance test and requires the federal trial judge to ensure that any expert testimony admitted is both reliable and relevant. The Court has also clarified that an expert’s conclusions are not beyond the reach of the relevance/reliability test, and that the relevance/reliability test is not limited to the “scientific” and applies to all expert testimony. The Court has therefore given federal trial court judges the important responsibility of ensuring that expert testimony is based on reliable methodology and fits the facts of the case.
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