In 2013, the Florida Legislature approved an amendment to the evidence code that required a switch in qualifying experts from the Frye to Daubert standard. However, by a vote of 4-2, the Supreme Court did not adopt the change and stated that in order to change the state’s evidence code on how expert witnesses are qualified, they needed to address the issue in a case in conflict. Today, in Delisle v. Crane Co., the court finally has the case in conflict to address this issue. In Delisle, the trial judge and the Fourth District Court of Appeal used the Daubert standard for expert witnesses, even though the Supreme Court had not passed the Legislature’s amendment.
The Supreme Court now has to decide whether to formally adopt Daubert, which proponents argue provides more consistent scientific testimony, or reject the amendment and continue employing the Frye standard. Over the years, proponents of the more relaxed Frye standard of “general acceptance” have argued that it should be up to the jury to decide the weight to give an expert’s testimony, whereas the more rigorous Daubert standard requires the judge to be the gatekeeper and ensure that the expert testimony truly proceeds from relevant and reliable scientific knowledge. No matter the outcome, the long awaited decision will finally settle the debate and discrepancy between the Florida courts.