Amending Mil. R. Evid. 702
The military rules of evidence are based on the federal rules with some modifications and additions. Any rule change comes into force 18 months after it is effective in district court unless the President says otherwise. See Military Rule of Evidence 1102 (Mil. R. Evid.).
Mil. R. Evid. 702 deals with testimony from experts. The concept is to ensure that expert testimony is reliable and relevant to the proceedings. The federal rule was meant to substitute for the Frye test that had been followed since about 1923. In 1993, the Supreme Court turned to interpretation of the rule in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). The court agreed that Frye was no longer the standard for the admissibility of expert testimony. The court then listed some factors for the trial judge to consider. This began the “Daubert Test” motion practice. In 2000 federal rule 702 was updated to account for the Daubert “factors.” Daubert was also meant to remind judges that they are gatekeepers to prevent “junk” science entering the courtroom.
The military appellate courts have themselves adopted Daubert and provided additional factors in United States v. Houser, 36 M.J. 392 (C.A.A.F. 1993) and United States v. Griffin, 50 M.J. 278 (CAAF 1999). The parties must address, and the military judge consider at least,
The Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure Judicial Conference of the United States asked for public comment on proposed changes to several rules of evidence. (See page 299 of the request.)
Court-martial practitioners know that the Military Rules of Evidence (Mil. R. Evid.) are based on the federal rules. There have been some additions, such as those found in Section 3, but several federal rules are not made applicable.
Last year, the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules unanimously approved a proposal to amend Rule 702. The comment period for the amendment to the federal evidence rule on expert testimony closed last month, and all signs indicate that these necessary changes, which would clearly establish the standard for admissibility of this testimony, will be approved by the Supreme Court soon and take effect Dec. 1, 2023.
See Elizabeth Bernard, ANALYSIS: Say Goodbye to ‘Daubert Motion’, Hello to New Rule 702(1).
If the rule changes, and unless the President says differently, the new rule is effective at courts-martial 18 months after adoption in federal courts. See Mil. R. Evid. 1102.
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