Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 702

In 1975, more than a half-century after Frye was decided, the Federal Rules of Evidence were adopted for litigation in federal courts. They included rules on expert testimony. Their alternative to the Frye Standard came to be used more broadly because it did not strictly require general acceptance and was seen to be more flexible.

The first version of Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provided that a witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:

  1. the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
  2. the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
  3. the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
  4. the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

While the states are allowed to adopt their own rules, most have adopted or modified the Federal rules, including those covering expert testimony.

In a 1993 case, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the United States Supreme Court held that the Federal Rules of Evidence, and in particular Rule 702, superseded Frye’s “general acceptance” test.

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