Earlier this year, the Florida Supreme Court issued a surprise decision adopting the Daubert evidentiary standard for the admission of expert witness testimony.
Although the legislature had passed legislation adopting the Daubert standard, the Florida Supreme Court as previously composed rejected the legislation to the extent it was procedural, and later ruled that the Daubert standard was unconstitutional.
This year’s decision to adopt Daubert, following three new justices joining the supreme court, surprised many because it was issued sua sponte under the court’s inherent rulemaking authority. Usually, Florida Supreme Court rules cases follow a formal process involving Florida Bar committee review and comment from members of the bar.
The Florida Bar’s Code and Rules of Evidence Committee filed a motion for rehearing of the court’s decision, as did two members of the bar. The motions for rehearing raised concerns about the court not following the traditional rulemaking process, as well as substantive concerns about the implementation of Daubert.
A 6-1 majority of the court denied the motions for rehearing, without writing an opinion. Only Justice Labarga dissented. Thus, it is clear that the court intends to enforce the Daubert standard going forward, and that any future challenges are likely to be futile.