In its May 23, 2019 opinion, the Florida Supreme Court adopted the Daubert rule and receded from its 2017 opinion recognizing the Frye standard as the applicable method of testing the admissibility of expert testimony in Florida. The opinion is cited as In re: Amendments to Florida Evidence Code, No. SC19-107 (Fla., 2019). In rendering its opinion, the Court stated as follows:
The Court, according to its exclusive rulemaking authority pursuant to article V, section 2(a) of the Florida Constitution,adopts chapter 2013-107, sections 1 and 2, Laws of Florida (Daubert amendments), which amended sections 90.702 (Testimony by experts) and 90.704 (Basis of opinion testimony by experts), Florida Statutes, of the Florida Evidence Code to replace the Frye standard for admitting certain expert testimony with the Daubert standard, the standard for expert testimony found in Federal Rule of Evidence 702. (at p. 1.)
Florida had long followed the Frye standard until the legislature enacted the Daubert amendments to sections 90.702 (testimony by experts) and 90.704 (Basis of opinion testimony by experts), Florida Statutes, of the Florida Evidence Code in 2013. Thereafter, in 2017 the Supreme Court held that the legislature infringed upon the Court’s rulemaking authority by enacting evidentiary standards which it considered to be within the province of the Court. Therefore, in its opinion, the Court decided not to adopt the legislature’s Daubert amendments to the evidence code and to retain the long-standing Frye standard. See In re: Amendments to Florida Evidence Code, 210 So. 3d 1231 (Fla. 2017).
In its recent opinion, the Court receded from its 2017 decision and reinstated the Daubert amendments to the evidence code. The Court held that the Daubert amendments remedy deficiencies of the Frye standard. It reasoned that the Frye standard only applies to expert testimony based on new or novel scientific techniques and general acceptance. However, Daubert provides that “the trial judge must ensure that any and all scientific testimony or evidence admitted is not only relevant, but reliable.” The Court further reasoned that the Daubert amendments will create consistency between state and federal courts with respect to the admissibility of expert testimony, will promote fairness and predictability in the legal system, as well as help lessen forum shopping. supra at pp 6-7. Constitutional concerns raised in the 2017 opinion that Daubert created an encroachment on the right to trial by jury by excluding pure opinion testimony were held to be unfounded.