Daubert standard

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The Daubert standard is the standard used by a trial judge to assess whether an expert witness’s scientific testimony is based on scientifically valid reasoning which can properly be applied to the facts at issue. The standard is applied after a Daubert motion to strike, a motion in limine, is filed before or during trial to exclude the presentation of unqualified evidence to the jury. It must also be noted that the courts have held that the Daubert standard governing admissibility of expert testimony is procedural and, thus, applies retroactively.


This standard comes from the Supreme Court case, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).

Under the Daubert standard, the factors that may be considered in determining whether the methodology is valid are: (1) whether the theory or technique in question can be and has been tested; (2) whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication; (3) its known or potential error rate; (4)the existence and maintenance of standards controlling its operation; and (5) whether it has attracted widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community.

The Daubert standard is the test currently used in the federal courts and some state courts. In the federal court system, it replaced the Frye standard, which is still used in some states.  

General Electric v. Joiner 

In General Electric Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136 (1997), the Supreme Court clarified Daubert, holding that an appellate court may still review a trial court's decision to admit or exclude expert testimony. The standard of review for this inquiry is the abuse of discretion standard

Kumho v. Carmichael 

In Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael 526 U.S. 137 (1999), the Supreme Court further clarified that the Daubert factors may apply to non-scientific testimony, meaning "the testimony of engineers and other experts who are not scientists."

[Last updated in September of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]