- The Frye vs. United States was a case decided in 1923, and that set the standard for scientific evidence admissibility in court. The major issue surrounding this case regarded polygraph test, which the defendant Frye offered to the court to prove that he was not lying, and he was indeed telling the truth in denying his culpability. The trial judges however refused to accept or admit this evidence and made a decree that would reverberate within the judicial corridors for a long time. The court ruled that any expert onion or evidence that was based on scientific principles could only be admitted in court if the technique has been generally accepted as a reliable tool of in the concerned scientific community (Siegel et al. 2011). However, at this time, the polygraph test or the systolic blood pressure test at it was known was not widely accepted at the time and; therefore, the judges declined to accept it. For the Frye standard to be met by a particular case, the scientific evidence that is presented to the court has to be interpreted as “generally accepted” by a significant segment of the relevant scientific community (Shelton, 2010). The admissibility refers to the principles, techniques and even principles that are presented before the court by either the defendant or the prosecuting parties (Siegel et al. 2011). This standard still applies in today’s courts even for the polygraph tests, which some courts do not accept as a scientifically valid.
- The main difference between the rulings of the Frye case and the Daubert cases was that while the Frye case concerned the admissibility of scientific evidence, the Daubert ruling provided a rule regarding the admissibility of the testimony of expert witnesses. The main problem found with the Frye case was in regards to rule 702 of the Rules standard that does not in any manner state any preconditions of general acceptance in allowing some expert testimony that is based on scientific evidence (Larvie, 1994). The Rules standard had been adopted some time back and according to it, the judges ruled the element of deciding whether or not to admit expert testimony lay solely with the trial judge. Rule 702 was, in fact, the determining factor of when and what expert testimony could be allowed in court (Larvie, 1994).
- The Daubert ruling concerning the admission of expert testimony has been of massive significance to today’s courts (Bradley, 2004). Although there are, many courts that still abide by the Frye standard most tend to adopt the Daubert standard. In fact, in many circumstances, the Daubert standard supersedes the Frye standard in many courts (Siegel et. al. 2011). The Daubert ruling dictates the manner in which trial judges admit expert testimony in courts today. The admission of lack of admission of expert testimony primarily likes with the judge and the judge can still admit expert testimony and use it to give a judgment even when the scientific techniques used to gather evidence might not be accepted in the relevant community.
- Court’s holdings evolve with time, and it would be unwise to conclude that the Daubert holding will hold forever. It might be overturned in the future and pave way for a new holding altogether. The overturning of the Daubert’s ruling may emanate from several premises with one being the realization that it is so possible for an expert to distort his testimony regarding scientific knowledge or technique to serve his own interests.
Bradley, R. (2004). Science, technology, and criminal justice. New York: Peter Lang.
Larvie, V. I. (January 01, 1994). Evidence - admissibility of scientific evidence in federal courts - the Supreme Court decides Frye is dead and the federal rules of evidence provide the standard, but is there a skeleton in the closet? Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 133 S. Ct. 2786 (1993).Land and Water Law Review, 29, 1, 275-297.
Shelton, Donald. (2010). Forensic Science in Court. Rowman & Littlefield Pub Group.
Siegel, L., Schmalleger, F., and Worrall, J. (2011). Courts and Criminal Justice in America. New York: Pearson Education Inc.