In May 2021, the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules gave final approval to a proposed amendment to Rule 702. Then in May 2022, after allowing a period for public comment, the advisory committee issued its final report to the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure. The advisory committee recommended that the proposed amended Rule 702 be confirmed and take effect on December 1, 2023.
Daniel P. Elms, Rule of Evidence 702 Is Changing Faster Than You Think. ABA May 24, 2023.
You can find the change forwarded in April to Congress here (along with a change to Fed. R. Evid. 106). Unlike the JSC, the FRAC has a robust "history" of the rule changes proposed and/or adopted.
Mil. R. Evid. 1102 would make the change effective for courts-martial July 2025, absent any action by the President.
The ABA article notes that,
Unsurprisingly, litigants took a keen interest in the proposed amendment and the advisory committee’s comments. But perhaps less predictably, courts began to rely on those comments to inform their decisions on pending Rule 702 admissibility issues. In Sardis v. Overhead Door Corp., for example, the appellate court cited the advisory committee’s admonishments in its decision reversing the district court’s admission of expert testimony on shipping container design. And in Bishop v. Triumph Motorcycles America Ltd., the district court followed the path set by Sardis and did the same regarding expert testimony on motorcycle design and safety.
Mil. R. Evid. 1102 says that changes to the Fed. R. Evid. become effective "by operation of law 18 months after the effective date of such amendments, unless action to the contrary is taken by the President."
Here are some proposed changes to the Fed. R. Evid. The federal rules making process is slow.
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.
Disclaimer: Posts are the authors' personal opinions and do not reflect the position of any organization or government agency.
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