SB 475 - This act creates the "Reliability in Expert Testimony Standards Act".
The act provides that if a witness is not testifying as an expert witness, any testimony about opinions or inferences is limited to those which are based on the witness' perception, which are helpful to understand the witness' testimony or to determine a fact in issue, and not based on scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge as would fall within the purview of testimony given by an expert witness who is acting as such. This is an adoption of Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 701.
If specialized knowledge will assist the judge or jury in understanding evidence or determining a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert may testify if such testimony is based upon sufficient facts, is the product of reliable methods, and such methods have been reliably applied to the facts of the case. This is an adoption of FRE 702.
Facts upon which an expert bases an opinion may be made known to the expert at or before a hearing, and such facts do not need to be admissible into evidence as long as they are of the type relied upon by experts in the particular field, but facts that are inadmissible shall not be disclosed to a jury unless the court determines that their probative value outweighs their probative effect. This is an adoption of FRE 704.
A witness qualified as an expert may only offer expert testimony in such field as he or she is qualified. Such expert may receive a reasonable fee for providing services, but testimony of an expert is inadmissible if the fee is contingent on the outcome of the case in which the expert testimony is offered.
Upon a party's motion, the court shall hold a pretrial hearing and issue a ruling to determine whether a witness qualifies as an expert and whether testimony to be offered satisfies the requirements of this act. Regardless of whether a party makes such a motion, all parties must disclose to other parties the identity of any person who may be used at trial to present expert evidence. Unless otherwise directed by the court, the disclosure shall be accompanied by a written report prepared and signed by the expert witness. Unless the court otherwise directs, the disclosures must be made at least 90 days before the trial, or, if the evidence is intended solely to rebut evidence on the same subject matter identified by another party, within 30 days after the other’s party disclosure. A party may depose any person who has been identified as an expert who may offer opinions at trial, but not until the required written report has been provided. This is an adoption of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2) and 26(b)(4)(A).
In interpreting this act, courts shall follow certain federal court precedents.
Interlocutory appeal on admissibility of expert evidence shall be available at the discretion of the appellate court, based on the court’s consideration of certain facts.
Courts of appeals shall apply a de novo standard of review to determine whether the trial court applied the proper legal standard in admitting expert evidence, and shall apply an abuse of discretion standard in determining whether the trial court properly admitted such evidence.
The provisions of this act shall apply to all actions begun after the act's effective date, and to all pending actions where the trial has not been scheduled or is scheduled more than 90 days after this act's effective date.