ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

D.C. Appeals Court Considers New Scientific Evidence Rule

Updated on November 26, 2015

Courts Struggle with Scientific Evidence

The D.C. Court of Appeals is considering adopting a new standard for admitting scientific evidence at trials in the District of Columbia.

If the court adopts the rule, it would mean D.C. has finally switched to a standard used in most of the United States, according to a report by The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net).

The appellate court is considering the rule in a lawsuit by 13 plaintiffs who accuse cell phone manufacturers of causing brain cancer from radiation emitted by their phones.

Currently, the District of Columbia uses the rule for admitting scientific evidence derived from Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923). The Frye test, or general acceptance test, gives a judge discretion to decide whether expert opinions can be admitted because they are based on scientific techniques generally accepted as reliable in the scientific community.

In federal courts and most state courts, the Frye test was replaced by Federal Rule of Evidence 702 after the ruling in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).

Rule 702 says, “If scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise…”

Local prosecutors and public defenders joined in asking the D.C. Court of Appeals to switch to the Rule 702 standard. They say it would represent a drastic change that creates a tougher standard and a bigger role for judges as “gatekeepers.”

However, attorney Jeffrey B. Morganroth, who represents the plaintiffs, said the Frye test works well.

Judge Catharine F. Easterly hinted during oral arguments that the court could be receptive to a more reliable standard.

The D.C. Public Defender Service said in a court filing that a better admissibility rule could help avoid unreliable forensic evidence that is a leading cause of wrongful convictions.

The filing said that as a result of improper bite-mark analysis and hair and handwriting identification, “Innocent defendants can lose their liberty…”

The court has not indicated when it expects to rule on the issue.

Court Considers New Rule on Scientific Evidence

The D.C. Court of Appeals is considering whether to adopt a federal rule on admitting scientific evidence.
The D.C. Court of Appeals is considering whether to adopt a federal rule on admitting scientific evidence.

Court considers new scientific evidence rule

Should judges have more discretion in deciding whether to admit scientific evidence?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Tom Ramstack profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Ramstack 

      3 years ago from Washington, D.C.

      I think Rule 702 is trying to add an extra layer of standards to avoid allowing shaky evidence to be considered by a court. Whatever else you say about it, it's the mostly widely accepted rule nationwide.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      If I'm understanding you correctly, the difference between the Frye test and Rule 702 is that under Frye an expert can testify only based on widely accepted scientific standards, whereas under 702 the expert can offer testimony, even an opinion, if it's backed up by appropriate credentials of expertise. I suppose 702 is gaining acceptance because of the swiftness of scientific and technological change. "Widely accepted" probably lags behind state of the art.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)