Gov. Rick Scott achieved part of his goal of tort reform by getting the Legislature to approve a change in how scientific evidence is admitted in court. In April, the House passed HB 7015 75-42 and the Senate passed it 30-9.
Scott wanted to adopt what is commonly called the "Daubert" standard for admitting expert scientific testimony. The Daubert standard -- named after a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals -- asks judges to more closely scrutinize expert testimony before admitting the testimony into a trial.
Florida currently uses something called the "Frye" standard -- another standard for admitting expert scientific testimony that resulted from a 1923 Supreme Court case.
The Daubert standard creates what most believe is a more rigorous threshold for admitting scientific evidence. Therefore, it is often considered more pro-defendant.
The Daubert standard will require the court to determine if the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data; the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce backed the bill.
The Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association argued that the bill would increase their workload and require a larger use of expert witness and court hearing time. It estimated an increased cost of $1.1 million, according to legislative staff analysis of the bill. The Florida Public Defender Association predicted an insignificant fiscal impact.
On June 4, Scott signed HB 7015. We rate this Promise Kept.