The Florida Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-3 this week to advance a bill that, if passed, would move Florida's admissibility of expert witness testimony standard from a Frye to a Daubert standard. This action would bring Florida in line with various states and federal courts, which use the stricter Daubert standard.
Under Daubert, expert witness testimony is admissible if the expert's methodology is relevant to the facts at issue and is scientifically valid based on factors such as "whether the theory or technique in question can be and has been tested, and whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication," among others. The Frye standard, on the other hand, allows for the admissibility of expert opinions based on whether the principles or techniques presented have gained general acceptance in their respective fields. Alternatively, several states also employ a hybrid model that takes elements from both standards.
Opponents of the bill fear the backlog that would result if Florida courts were made to hold Daubert hearings, during which a judge would hear challenges to expert witness testimony, thus prolonging the litigation process. They similarly argue that the more scientifically complicated issues a case presents, the greater the burden is on the state court hearing the matter. Conversely, proponents of the bill laud the proposed shift to the Daubert standard as a means of eliminating the potential inclusion of unreliable scientific evidence into a trial. Please see Florida Senate Bill SB 1412: Expert Testimony for more information.