Qualification of Opinion

One of the biggest distinctions between fact witnesses and expert witnesses is literally a matter of opinion. While a fact witness's testimony is bound to actions and observations the individual personally performed or observed, an expert witness is allowed and even encouraged to use scientific data to form educated opinions about what the data might indicate—such as whether a potential interference in the assay is relevant to the case or hearing. However, even the opinion of an expert may be tightly regulated in an attempt to keep "junk science" out of the courtroom. The Daubert Standard was set by the US Supreme Court in 1993 to exclude the presentation of unqualified evidence to a jury, ruling all testimony must be relevant to the facts of the case and reliable, that is, grounded in the scientific method. Prior to the Daubert ruling, criteria against which to measure scientific evidence were outlined in Frye v. United States cite in 1923. In this case, the court upheld a prior court's decision to refuse the acceptance of a test and the expert testimony relating to the test. The court concluded that new or novel scientific evidence, or the novel application of scientific principles, must have been generally accepted in the relevant scientific community before it can be admitted into evidence. The test in question in Frye v. United States was determined not to have been generally accepted in the relevant scientific community.

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