For a long time, a heated debate has existed for the use of expert testimony in legal proceedings. This has been caused by the misuse of scientific evidence in an uncountable number of times resulting in innocent people being sent to jail. For instance, Gershman notes that in the case of Miller vs. Pate, the defendant was wrongly imprisoned despite the judge admitting that the scientific evidence was insufficient to warrant a fair court ruling. The Frye test gave guidelines of accepting expert evidence in law courts, but was jolted in 1993, thanks to Supreme Court ruling rendering the system insufficient. The Daubert vs. Merryl Dow case made Frye irrelevant and no longer dependable in accepting scientific evidence. This paper explains the differences between Frye and Daubert Test as well as the accepted test in Florida.
The Frye test was coined in 1923 in the case of Frye vs. US where James Frye was being tried for murder. The defendant presented expert evidence to the court showing his blood pressure to prove that he was saying the truth by not admitting culpability. The truth test was used to determine whether a person was telling the truth or not. In the end, the judges adopted the method and used it in subsequent cases. The test is also called the Frye Standard and entails gauging the expert evidence on the testimony of complainants and defendants. Until now, many states in the US still accept expert evidence based on Frye Standard despite the opposition that the system has received over time (Cheng & Yoon, 2005).
The Daubert Test gives the guidelines regarding the acceptance of the expert testimony in legal proceedings in the United States. In court, a pursuant is allowed to raise Daubert Motion, which excludes the use of unqualified evidence by the judge(s). The Daubert trilogy refers to three cases that applied the Daubert standard: General Electric Co. v. Joiner, Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals. Under Daubert Standard, the judge is the gatekeeper and the use of scientific evidence depends on his guidance. Second, the judge must ensure that the expert testimony is relevant to the case. Third, expert testimony will be accepted upon the proof a sound scientific methodology used to arrive at it. Lastly, relevant factors of Daubert rule include empirical testing and potential error rate (Cheng & Yoon, 2005).
Difference between Frye and Daubert Tests
In comparing the Frye and Daubert Standards, it is important to consider the DNA admissibility of both tests. Daubert Test is much more considerate to errors than Frye because it determines the rates of mistakes while gathering and compiling evidence. Additionally, in Frye tests, the calculation of genetic match is based on the admissibility of evidence whereas in Daubert is based on the weight of the evidence. The two tests also have different approaches concerning judges and their opinions on the case. In Frye, the judges have the power to give the ultimate decision concerning the truth tests. In Daubert, the judges are considered as gatekeepers are authorized to exclude any evidence that does not meet the standards of admissibility. In Frye, the expert testimony is accepted as long as it is approved by the scientific community, while in Daubert test, the evidence is accepted as long as a reliable methodology is presented. As a result, the Daubert test seems a more realistic approach to scientific evidence and it has since replaced the Frye test in many states in the US (Jensen, 2012).
In July 2013, Florida amended its law to give room for the adoption of Daubert Standards in its courts. Initially, Florida followed the Frye standards but replaced with Daubert Test since it was only applicable in case an expert was required to give testimony, but remaining insufficient in a majority of cases. The overreliance on Frye Standard meant that some cases lacked grounds for assessing the admissibility of expert testimony. After the amendment, the courts acted as gatekeepers and required to give ruling on the admissibility of the expert testimony/evidence based on the Daubert standard. Some of the cases that new standard has been used are the Perez vs. Bell South Telecommunications Inc., in which the court ruled that the expert testimony was inadmissible, and the Giamo vs. Florida Autosport, where the court accepted the expert testimony presented (Stuuner et al. , 2010).
Despite the fact that Daubert Standard seems a better approach in admitting expert testimony, several states in the United States have stuck to the old fryer standard. One reason for this trend is long procedures required to amend the law as well as the complexity of Daubert test. However, recently, most law activists in states that use the fryer standard have lobbied for adoption of the Daubert test. The Law activists claim that some defendants have been trained to pass the truth tests even if they are innocent since it only requires one to relax and switch his mind to other irrelevant issues.
Cheng, E. K., & Yoon, A. H. (2005). Does Frye or Daubert matter? A study of scientific
admissibility standards. Virginia Law Review, 471-513.
Jensen, P. J. (2012). Frye versus Daubert: Practically the same. Minn. L. Rev., 87, 1579.
Sturner, W. Q., Herrmann, M. A., Boden, C., Scarritt, T. P., Sherman, R. E., Harmon, T. S., &
Woods, K. B. (2010). The Frye hearing in Florida: an attempt to exclude scientific evidence. Journal of forensic sciences, 45(4), 908-910.