Daubert Standard

Questions 1. Discuss the Daubert Standard and its impact on scientific evidence. 2. How can a forensic expert prepare for Voir Dire (qualifying an expert) and subsequent testimony? In the US Supreme Court Case, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals (1993), the Court addressed the admissibility of expert witnesses during a legal proceeding. The Court held that trial judges are the “gatekeepers” of scientific evidence and must evaluate expert witnesses to determine if their testimony is relevant and reliable. As part of the reliability prong, the Court ruled that the conclusions of the expert witness in regards to the scientific evidence must have been obtained via the scientific method, thus a third prong originated: empirical testing. Empirical testing requires that the scientific theory must be testable, subjected to peer review, have a known error rate, and be “generally accepted” in the scientific community. As you have learned in many of your forensic courses, forensic evidence can be valuable to a criminal case. The key is proper identification, documentation, collection, and analysis. Analysis of any evidence must be conducted by a qualified person who is properly trained in their scientific discipline. These experts then must be able to explain their analysis in court.

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