Litigators! Substantive amendments have been proposed to Federal Rule of Evidence 702. The public comment period closes February 16.
Rule 702 was last amended substantively in 2000, soon after the concluding chapter in the Daubert trilogy, Kumho Tire. Those amendments were intended to reset the Rule based on the post-Daubert experience.
Lower courts had read snippets of language in Daubert through variable lenses, influenced by their level of enthusiasm or reluctance to keep flawed expert opinions from the jury. Though Daubert mandated rigorous gatekeeping, it also included Delphic comments about the “liberal thrust” of the federal rules (compared to the “rigid’ and “austere” Frye rule they replaced) and about the ability of the adversarial process to limit the impact of “shaky but admissible” evidence. Some courts misread these comments to limit the scope and depth of their gatekeeping obligation and adopted standards consistent with this vision.