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Understanding the Five Daubert Factors when Dealing with Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses are hired to provide an understanding of various pieces of evidence for a case, but they must have reliable methods and testimony must be relevant to the case materials. However, there are five factors that could lead to a challenge that removes the expert’s testimony reliant upon Daubert standards for these professionals.

Since the times of Daubert and his introduction into changing the way expert witness testimony and methods are utilized in the courtroom, the branch of professionalism has extended to the non-scientific domains. This is primarily why there are five factors representing experts. Testimony must involve certain parameters such as whether the methods or techniques being presented have been tested and may be reproduced. Peer review and publication is important for those in the scientific community. The processes should be known and have an error rate that may be measured. For the method’s reliability, there should have a maintenance of standards that control the procedures. And there should have been a widespread acceptance within the relevant community of scientists.

Reliability and relevance are at the heart of being an expert witness for the appropriate
subject matter. Placing the other five factors within these two categories increases the chances of being accepted and providing testimony in the courtroom. However, if the methods employed by the professional are not standard, have not been proven previously or cannot be reproduced, he or she is usually not permitted to take part in the claim. If a Daubert challenge arises, the lawyer and expert both need to prove that the professional hired has enough backing through tested procedures, reliability in his or her processes and everything is relevant to the field of study to pass the test.

The Need for Challenges and Daubert Factors

There are many suspicious characters in the world, and some of them masquerade as professionals when they are attempting to scam someone. Even an expert witness may not be what he or she appears to be to the world. Through only a cursory glance, a lawyer may not reveal these possibilities to the client or himself or herself. However, when the expert’s testimony or methods are challenged through a Daubert challenge, his or her relevance and reliability is tested. Though he or she may fail, there is an opportunity for him or her to consult to find a new expert.

Scientifically valid methods are necessary when the expert is someone within the scientific community. However, these factors are still used when a non-science expert has been hired for the case. Procedures to discover or tie in evidence to the claim may still process through reliability and relevance to the case materials. The methods used could be reproduced and considered valid even if not part of the scientific method. The professional may have been subject to a peer review or have been published previously. Acceptance and control over the maintenance of standards may be present with these other types of experts. The need to consider the five factors is important.

The Expert Facing Daubert Factors

When an expert is challenged against his or her testimony or processes, he or she must prove that his or her methods are relevant to the subject matter of the case even if the expert does not have a degree or mastery in the field. Additionally, the professional must prove to have reliable procedures when connecting the evidence or others’ testimony to the claim. If he or she is able to do so in the courtroom or before the judge, his or her testimony is then considered admissible. However, if the five factors of the Daubert challenge and the two categories are not sufficiently established, the expert is not deemed an expert in the courtroom.

Even if the professional hired has experience or knowledge outside the scientific realm, he or she could still maintain the status of expert for providing testimony and working with the evidence and other witnesses. As the expert witness considerations branch out, additional persons that have acquired knowledge and practical experience in certain subjects are able to explain details, connect events and assist in proving liability. This could entail a computer technician that has extensive experience in working with computers, networks and other electronic devices. Another individual hired as an expert may only have knowledge of the events. No matter which person has been accepted by the judge, he or she brings the ability to better understand the evidence and incident.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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