Daubert Challenge

Posted on September 23rd, 2016
By William Cunningham

The Daubert Challenge refers to when a lawyer questions the testimony of the opposing side’s expert.  More specifically, the admissibility and validity of an expert’s testimony is challenged during a hearing where said expert is brought before a judge. The expert or counsel who is relying on the expert’s testimony is required to prove that his or her reasoning and methodology is both scientifically valid and applicable to the case in question.

The Daubert Standard allows the court to be the gatekeeper of the courtroom when it comes to expert testimony. Although it can be difficult to deal with when an attorney needs an expert’s testimony to prove a case, the standard does serve a worthwhile purpose-  to prevent unscientific testimony from being used to convict a person of a crime.

How Did The Daubert Challenge/Standard Get It’s Name?

The term “Daubert Challenge” comes from a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court Case, Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Daubert. In this case, the court set certain criteria that would determine what type of expert testimony would be admissible in court cases from then on. The standard was further expounded upon in 1999 during the Kumho Tire v. Carmichael case. The court altered the Daubert Standard once again to include testimony of a non-scientific variety.

How Can The Daubert Challenge Alter a Case?

When an opposing counsel challenges the validity of a witness, it can cause problems in a case. If an expert’s testimony is determined to be invalid to the case, it takes away the benefit of said testimony. Thankfully, an experienced attorney knows how to face the Daubert Challenge and come away victorious.

How to Beat a Daubert Challenge:

If an expert’s testimony is crucial to proving a case, facing a Daubert Challenge can be a scary proposition. It doesn’t mean defeat, though. The following are ways to counteract and beat the Daubert Challenge, which might occur during any case:

  • Highlight An Expert’s Qualifications: Attaching a report illustrating an expert’s qualifications with regard to their training and education is wise when facing a Daubert Challenge. Also, attorneys should share any applicable literature that said expert has written.
  • Show Why An Expert’s Testimony is Valid: It is imperative for an attorney to be able to prove the fact that their expert’s opinion is based up sufficient, relevant source data. In the 2009 case of Lock Realty Corp v/ U.S. Health, an expert’s testimony was proved invalid simply because they couldn’t provide relevant source data for their testimony. When experts have enough source data backing up their testimony, any other expert could also come to the same conclusion based upon the data. Therefore, it is imperative for source data to be present and applicable to a case.
  • Ensure Testimony is Based Upon Evidence And Research, Not Opinions: An expert’s testimony/opinion should be formed on a case only after they have researched the case and examined the evidence thoroughly. Otherwise, they may be tempted to overlook scientific results that validate an opposing testimony.

How The Daubert Standard Has Increased The Validity of Expert Testimony

In many cases, experts are the foundation that an entire case is built upon. As such, they should be accurate, reliable and without bias. In some ways, the inception of the Daubert Standard/Challenge has actually made expert testimony that much more important and trustworthy. Thanks to the ruling and the creation of such a standard, lawyers know their experts could be subjected to such vetting. Therefore, they will ensure their experts meet all the necessary standards before their testimony is brought before a judge for review. Consequently, experts who aren’t legitimate, either because they have formed opinions too hastily or they don’t have scientific evidence or data to back up their testimony, are no longer allowed to testify and sway a court ruling.

We understand the role that the Daubert Standard/Challenge plays in our court system today no matter if one is proving someone at fault or defending themselves. We feel it is beneficial overall, because it ensures all expert testimony that a case is built upon is valid and applicable. Contact us today to learn more about the Daubert Standard and how it can help you prove your case by ensuring no bogus testimony is used against you and that the testimony you do use it valid and will stand up in court.

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