The amended Federal Rule of Evidence 702 clarifing the standards governing expert witness testimony took official effect on December 1, 2023, making the courts more actively involved as the gatekeeper and increasing standards for expert witness testimony. One critical result of the amended Rule 702 is the anticipated additional motions on the admissibility of expert testimony.
Amended Rule 702
The amended language follows in italics:
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 the proponent demonstrates to the court that it is more likely than not that:
a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier offact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and,
d) the expert has reliably applied expert's opinion reflects a reliable application of the principles and methods to the facts of the case.
The amended 702 Rule clarifies that the standard for expert testimony admissibility as a "preponderance of the evidence" standard for all four elements of the rule, rather than just any single element.
In addition, the amendments clarify that an expert's opinion must demonstrate a reliable application of principles or methodology to the facts of the case.
Courts will now actively analyze the methods and principles on which the expert witness relied, rather than simply deferring to the finder of fact.
The overall outcome of these new standards is a less leniency for expert witness reports and, therefore, more rigid requirements for admissibility.