Schmidt, Sethi & Akmajian Blog

New Supreme Court Ruling

Posted by Dev Sethi | Apr 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

Yesterday the Arizona Supreme Court issued an order amending Arizona Rule of Evidence 702 to conform almost identically to its Federal counterpart. This amendment renders the trial court a “gatekeeper” for expert witness testimony and is designed to restrict the admissibility of “junk science” and otherwise “unreliable” expert opinion testimony. The order can be found at: The new Arizona rule reads:

Ariz. R. Evid. 702: A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:

(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;

(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;

(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and

(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

Where the Arizona and Federal rules are now nearly identical, the Commentary to the rules is not. The Commentary to the new Arizona rule is much more circumspect than its Federal counterpart. Despite this divergence, it can be expected that federal case law will be heavily relied upon by the Arizona courts in interpreting the new rule since Daubert v. Merrell DowPharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993) and the cases and rule that followed have been around for over 15 years.

An excellent source of information concerning the Federal rule and interpreting case law can be found at Sadly the author of this excellent site passed away in 2010 and I am uncertain to what extent his colleagues have stepped up to keep it current. It is nonetheless an excellent starting point for researching the new standard.

I also highly recommend you consult “Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence” prepared by the Federal Judicial Center to aid judges in applying the new rule. This publication can be found on line at$file/sciman00.pdf

About the Author

Dev Sethi

Dev Sethi litigates and tries a wide-range of complex injury and death cases throughout Arizona. He has Martindale Hubbell's highest rating, AV, and he is listed in "Best Lawyers." Dev is also recognized as an Arizona Super Lawyer in the area of plaintiff's products liability litigation.Dev has been at the forefront of auto product defect litigation. He played a key role in uncovering the Goodyear Load Range E tire scandal and worked to hold Ford Motor Company responsible for the danger posed by their now notorious 15-passenger vans. Dev is currently representing families in product liability suits against the nation's largest corporations including General Motors, Ford, Pentair Pools and Invacare.


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