Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed into law in late March a bill which will take effect August 28th in Missouri state courts.
The law will require Missouri state courts to follow the standards set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals,
in which the U.S. Supreme Court held over 20 years ago that expert testimony in federal courts must meet certain guidelines for admissibility. Under Rule 702, Federal Rules of Evidence, a witness who is qualified as an expert by his or her knowledge, skill, experience, training or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if the expert's scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact at issue, the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data, the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.
State court trial judges now become gatekeepers admitting or excluding proffered evidence based on whether it will meet the newly enacted evidentiary standard. This bill is viewed as a tort reform measure in Missouri. Opposition to the enactment of this bill has been that Daubert
hearings on evidentiary issues may clog court dockets and slow down civil cases from getting through trial.
Until the enactment of this bill, Missouri courts have allowed expert opinion testimony of a type reasonably relied upon by experts in the field in forming opinions or inferences upon the subject and if they are otherwise reasonably reliable. This bill is viewed as raising the standard of admissibility to a higher level.
Kansas previously modified its statutes to mirror the standards set forth in the Daubert holding. Before doing so, Kansas followed the holding in Frye v. United States, which provided that expert opinion must be based on scientific technique only where the technique is generally accepted as reliable in the relevant scientific community. Once Daubert was decided however, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the Federal Rules of Evidence superseded Frye as the proper standard for admissibility.
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