The Weight Versus Admissibility Dilemma: Daubert's Applicability to a Method or Procedure in a Particular Case
Shelley Storer   |   1998 U. Ill. L. Rev.

Scientific evidence, increasingly commonplace in today's society, provides unique difficulties for the court, particularly with regard to admissibility. Because scientific evidence may make or break a case, the danger associated with introducing invalid evidence is great. In Daubert, the Supreme Court established a standard for the admissibility of scientific evidence based on reliability and relevance, rejecting the long-standing general acceptance test of Frye. However, the Daubert decision did not specifically state whether evidence regarding how a specific experiment or method was carried out in a particular case was relevant in determining the admissibility of the evidence or only the weight of the evidence. As a result, courts disagree as to the applicability of the Daubert standard regarding how a specific experiment or analysis was carried out. Should evidence of the use of a flawed procedure exclude the scientific testimony or merely discredit it? Courts which delegate the analysis of a particular application to the finder of fact, as a question of weight for the jury, cite expediency or alleviating the judge's load, and confidence in the adversarial system. Courts which place the analysis in the hands of the judge as a gatekeeper cite the reliability of scientific evidence. This note proposes a compromise to the weight-of-the-evidence and admissibility approaches. The author suggests an affidavit provided by the expert which requires a showing of scientific integrity to assist the gatekeeper in the admissibility decision.

* B.S. Biochemistry, U.C. Los Angeles 1993; M.S. Chemistry, U.C. Berkeley 1995.