The emerging of genetic science and the use of scientific proof have considerably increased challenges in legal proceedings in court. This issue has led to sorting out expert witness’s testimonies to understand science behind the evidence. In a court, such statements are used in case there are any scientific disputes since they help in understanding and finding areas that many people lack knowledge in, making it easier for the court to understand the evidence (Walsh, 2016). This testimony is subjected to rules of proof, including the Frye and Daubert tests, which aim at ensuring that the information availed in court is sufficient and reliable.
The Frye standard is still being adhered to by many federal courts in determining the admissibility of scientific evidence presented to the jury. However, in some state courts, for example, in Florida, the Frye test has been superseded by the Daubert standard. The former, which is also known as a general acceptance test, provides that an expert opinion and testimony that rely on the scientific process need to be subjected to a standard review with the aim of determining whether the technique is accepted by the scientific community (Roberts, DeCandio, & Ingersoll, 2013). Therefore, an expert testimony must be founded on science that is accepted for it to be admissible in court. It should however be noted that this standard is applicable where an expert bases his or her testimony on new techniques instead of a pure opinion or statement based on years of experience. The Daubert test uses the scientific knowledge approach to determine whether expert’s testimony is reliable and relevant to the case for it to qualify as scientific evidence. This process involves subjecting a pure opinion testimony to a reliability analysis (Roberts, DeCandio, & Ingersoll, 2013). Therefore, this standard is based on the principle and methodology that the expert uses while testifying to know how reliable it is instead of making a generated conclusion. Thus, the Daubert test is a better way of ensuring the credibility of experts’ testimony since it puts into account scientific and technical knowledge in its principles of the admissibility of evidence.
Until July 2013, Florida courts had been using the Frye standard in the admissibility of an expert testimony (Roberts, DeCandio, & Ingersoll, 2013). This norm changed after the governor had signed House Bill 7015 concerned with the qualification of an expert witness testimony (Roberts, DeCandio, & Ingersoll, 2013). The Daubert standard was adopted replacing the Frye test used by state courts to analyze the admissibility of scientific evidence (Wajert, 2013). The signed bill prohibits the testimony of an expert witness in the form of an opinion, unless the said evidence is based on sufficient facts or data. This move aims at reducing the amount of unwanted information presented before the court. Moreover, using this standard, a three-part test is to be adopted, aimed at determining whether an expert has given his or her testimony based on sufficient information, or if the evidence is a result of the expert having reliable methods and techniques. This development ensures that the one has applied the required principles and methods to facts of the case while forming an expert opinion (Cuello & Villavicencio, 2014). It does not only involve the use of scientific knowledge in the testimony, but also technical expertise when forming an expert opinion. The judge plays the role of a gatekeeper by ensuring that the theory and technique used can be tested and applied in tackling the scientific issue while also providing that the amount of error made is known.
Debates have occurred recently in Florida with the Florida bar split over the Fry and Daubert standards. On the one hand, a group of legal councilors argues that the Daubert standard has become a tool used in evaluating experts instead of using the methodology (Hatfield, 2015). On the other hand, the other part of the bar claims that the Frye standard has led to wrongful convictions and executions, and that they are pleased with the change in favor of the Daubert test. This conflict has been fueled further by the Supreme Court lack of stand failing to decide on whether to adopt the legislative standard. It has further led to the absence of a solid position held by Florida courts.
It is wise to argue that the Daubert standard is better than the Frye test used for the admissibility of scientific evidence due to some benefits. First, it prevents decisions that are made based on redundant information brought forward to the court, which in turn makes experts’ testimony reliable and credible. Recently, business groups in Florida have supported this test on the basis that it reduces the amount of irrelevant information from testimonies. It grants the counselor an opportunity to vet an expert testimony making it very helpful and more understandable. This process has however been viewed as time-consuming for the court in comparison to the Frye standard that aims at showing the validity of a particular technique, which has led to the uniformity of methods used (Lyons, 2016).
The Frye rule helps to obtain results only after proving the methodology employed by the general acceptance of the scientific community. This development can lead to the disregard of new techniques that could be reliable but have not yet passed the test to be accepted. it can result in the exclusion of data that may be vital for the case. On the other hand, the Daubert analysis is viewed as flexible in determining how valid and credible the testimony is, since it ensures that decisions are not based on unneeded information, but only important one. The Daubert test also provides defense attorneys with more ways to attack the testimony of an expert.
In conclusion, the Frye standard is used in ensuring that the scientific evidence presented to the court is reliable by making sure that techniques and methods used have been tested and accepted. The Daubert analysis aims at ensuring that an expert opinion is relevant and credible by relying on scientific knowledge while presenting evidence in court. Despite continued debates about whether to adopt the Daubert test and forgo the Frye standard, the court must ensure that it can keep up with the change in the modern litigation and forensic technology and make the right verdict. Florida courts replaced the Frye standard with the Daubert test after it had gained recognition in law despite constant debates about which of the two standards is better.