Georgia enactment of Daubert may be unconstitutional

Arguments have been raised to the effect that the enactment of Daubert standards in Senate Bill 3 is unconstitutional on grounds of violation of separation of powers, equal protection and due process. The constitutional arguments set forth below are from a brief filed by David E. Tuszynski in the case of Mason v. Home Depot, et al, in the State Court of Cobb County (Civil Action No. 97A5105-1).

The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).

  • David Warren

    An exhaustively comprehensive footnote in a Tulane Law Review article indicates that a majority of the states have adopted Daubert over Frye, at least in part. Joelle Anne Moreno, What Happens When Dirty Harry Becomes An (Expert) Witness For The Prosecution?, 79 Tul. L. Rev. 1, at n.66 (2004). Those transitions, however, were done by the judiciary not the legislatures. Michigan enacted a statute, MCL 600.2955(1), in an apparent effort to codify Daubert. The courts, however, have recognized that this statute is not a rule of evidence and does not displace those rules. Greathouse v. Rhodes, 618 N.W.2d 106, 115 (Mich. App. 2000), rev’d on other grounds, 636 N.W.2d 138 (Mich. 2001); Moore v. Cerling, No. 243017, 2004 WL 94543 (Mich. App. Jan. 20, 2004).
    The Alabama legislature adopted the Daubert standard only with respect to the admission of DNA evidence, and the state supreme court refused to abandon Frye with respect to the admission of all other evidence. Southern Energy Homes, Inc. v. Washington, 774 So.2d 505, at n.5 (Ala. 2000).
    Even assuming such rules were properly enacted, there are still constitutional limitations to consider.
    Along a somewhat similar vein in Florida, the legislature eliminated the objective theory of entrapment by codifying the subjective theory. Fla. Stat. § 777.201. In Munoz v. State, 629 So.2d 90 (Fla. 1993), the Florida Supreme Court acknowledged the legislature’s ability to ability to do so but also held that it could not eliminate the constitutional aspects of the due process test. Justice Kogan noted that due process entrapment is essentially the same as objective entrapment, thus providing for it’s continued viability.
    The text of the Tulane Law Review footnote is copied below:
    Nearly thirty states have adopted Daubert, in whole or in part. See Alabama: S. Energy Homes, Inc. v. Washington, 774 So. 2d 505, 517 n.5 (Ala. 2000) (acknowledging that the legislature has used Daubert with respect to DNA evidence, but not explicitly switching the standard from Frye to Daubert for other evidence); Alaska: State v. Coon, 974 P.2d 386, 389-99 (Alaska 1999) (adopting the Daubert standard); Arizona: Logerquist v. McVey, 1 P.3d 113, 129 (Ariz. 2000) (en banc) (retaining the Frye standard); Arkansas: Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Foote, 14 S.W.3d 512, 519 (Ark. 2000) (adopting the Daubert standard); California: People v. Leahy, 882 P.2d 321, 323-31 (Cal. 1994) (refusing to adopt Daubert and noting that California has long held to the Frye standard and would continue to do so); Colorado: People v. Schreck, 22 P.3d 68, 78 (Colo. 2001) (allowing the use of Daubert factors to make a determination under the state law test); Connecticut: State v. Porter, 698 A.2d 739, 751 (Conn. 1997) (adopting the Daubert standard); Delaware: Bell Sports, Inc. v. Yarusso, 759 A.2d 582, 589 (Del. 2000) (adopting Daubert expressly); Florida: Brim v. State, 695 So. 2d 268, 271-72 (Fla. 1997) (rejecting Daubert); Georgia: Jordan v. Georgia Power Co., 466 S.E.2d 601, 604-05 (Ga. 1995) (applying state law and not adopting Daubert); Hawaii: State v. Fukusaku, 946 P.2d 32, 42-43 (Haw. 1997) (declining to apply Daubert to issues of “technical knowledge”); Idaho: State v. Trevino, 980 P.2d 552, 557-58 (Idaho 1999) (applying the Daubert standard); Illinois: People v. Basler, 740 N.E.2d 1, 4 (Ill. 2000) (noting that the Frye standard is followed in Illinois); Indiana: Sears Roebuck & Co. v. Manuilov, 742 N.E.2d 453, 461 n.5, 462 (Ind. 2001) (stating that “federal jurisprudence interpreting Daubert is not binding” on Indiana state courts); Iowa: Leaf v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 590 N.W.2d 525, 530-33 (Iowa 1999) (adopting a limited application of Daubert); Kansas: State v. Canaan, 964 P.2d 681, 691-92, 694 (Kan. 1998) (retaining the Frye standard), cert. denied, 124 S. Ct. 962 (2003); Kentucky: Fugate v. Commonwealth, 993 S.W.2d 931, 937 (Ky. 1999) (declining to require a Daubert hearing on certain methods of DNA analysis); Louisiana: State v. Ledet, 792 So. 2d 160, 172-73 (La. Ct. App. 5th Cir. 2001) (adopting the Daubert standard); Maine: State v. MacDonald, 718 A.2d 195, 198 (Me. 1998) (adopting Daubert); Maryland: Hutton v. State, 663 A.2d 1289, 1295-96 n.10 (Md. 1995) (determining that Maryland will still follow the Frye standard despite the fact that Maryland’s Rules of Evidence are patterned after the Federal Rules of Evidence and were passed into legislation after the Daubert decision); Massachusetts: Commonwealth v. Senior, 744 N.E.2d 614, 618-19 (Mass. 2001) (applying various Daubert factors); Michigan: Nelson v. Am. Sterilizer Co., 566 N.W.2d 671, 673-74 (Mich. Ct. App. 1997) (citing Daubert several times, although the Michigan Supreme Court has not yet addressed the issue); Minnesota: State v. Klawitter, 518 N.W.2d 577, 585 & n.3 (Minn. 1994) (noting that the Frye standard has been utilized before and after Daubert although expressing that “we do not address the effect of the Daubert decision on the use or application of the Frye rule in Minnesota”); Mississippi: Janssen Pharm. v. Bailey, 878 So. 2d 31, 59 (Miss. 2004) (acknowledging the amendment of the state rule in response to Daubert); Missouri: Callahan v. Cardinal Glennon Hosp., 863 S.W.2d 852, 860 (Mo. 1993) (en banc) (applying Frye); Montana: State v. Moore, 885 P.2d 457, 470- 71 (Mont. 1994) (adopting the Daubert standard); Nebraska: Schafersman v. Agland Coop, 631 N.W.2d 862, 876 (Neb. 2001) (adopting the Daubert standard); Nevada: Dow Chem. Co. v. Mahlum, 970 P.2d 98, 108 n.3 (Nev. 1999) (declining to adopt Daubert expressly); New Hampshire: State v. Cort, 766 A.2d 260, 265 (N.H. 2000) (declining to decide whether Frye should be superseded as the test applied in New Hampshire courts); New Jersey: State v. Harvey, 699 A.2d 596, 621 (N.J. 1997) (applying various Daubert factors); New Mexico: State v. Anderson, 881 P.2d 29, 36-37 (N.M. 1994) (adopting the Daubert standard); New York: People v. Wernick, 674 N.E.2d 322, 324 (N.Y. 1996) (retaining the Frye standard); North Carolina: Howerton v. Arai Helmet, 597 S.E.2d 674, 690 (N.C. 2004) (rejecting Daubert in favor of a more flexible test); North Dakota: City of Fargo v. McLaughlin, 512 N.W.2d 700, 705 & n.2 (N.D. 1994) (retaining the Frye standard); Ohio: State v. Martens, 629 N.E.2d 462, 466 n.3 (Ohio Ct. App. 1993) (declining to adopt the Daubert standard expressly); Oregon: State v. O’Key, 899 P.2d 663, 680 (Or. 1995) (adopting the Daubert standard); Oklahoma: Taylor v. State, 889 P.2d 319, 328-30 (Okla. Crim. App. 1995) (adopting, in this criminal case, the Daubert standard as it applies to novel “scientific or technical evidence”); Pennsylvania: Commonwealth v. Arroyo, 723 A.2d 162, 170 & n.10 (Pa. 1999) (retaining the Frye standard); Rhode Island: State v. Quattrocchi, 681 A.2d 879, 884 n.2 (R.I. 1996) (declining to expressly adopt the Daubert standard); South Carolina: State v. Council, 515 S.E.2d 508, 518 (S.C. 1999) (using factors similar to, but not specifically adopting, the Daubert factors); South Dakota: State v. Hofer, 512 N.W.2d 482, 484 (S.D. 1994) (adopting the Daubert standard); Tennessee: McDaniel v. CSX Transp., Inc., 955 S.W.2d 257, 265 (Tenn. 1997) (adopting the Daubert standard); Texas: E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Robinson, 923 S.W.2d 549, 554-56 (Tex. 1995) (adopting the Daubert standard); Utah: State v. Butterfield, 27 P.3d 1133, 1141 (Utah 2001) (stating that the test for admissibility requires threshold showing of “inherent reliability”); Vermont: State v. Brooks, 643 A.2d 226, 229 (Vt. 1993) (adopting the Daubert decision); Virginia: Spencer v. Commonwealth, 393 S.E.2d 609, 621 (Va. 1990) (declining to follow Frye, but not adopting Daubert); Washington: State v. Copeland, 922 P.2d 1304, 1310 (Wash. 1996) (retaining the Frye standard); West Virginia: Wilt v. Buracker, 443 S.E.2d 196, 203 (W. Va. 1993) (adopting the Daubert decision); Wisconsin: State v. Peters, 534 N.W.2d 867, 871-72 (Wis. Ct. App. 1995) (basing admissibility on three-part relevance test); Wyoming: Bunting v. Jamieson, 984 P.2d 467, 470 (Wyo. 1999) (adopting the Daubert standard). The District of Columbia has not yet adopted Federal Rule of Evidence 702, and there has been no majority opinion that has addressed Daubert. Cf. Taylor v. United States, 661 A.2d 636, 651- 52 (D.C. 1995) (Newman, J., dissenting) (urging the adoption of Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert).