Depending on the subject of the expert’s testimony, the state of Alabama follows either the Daubert or Frye test for the admissibility of expert witness testimony. Thompson v. State, 153 So.3d 84 (Ala. Crim. App. 2012). Alabama courts apply the Frye test in cases where the expert witness is either a medical or scientific expert. Id. In these situations, the testimony will be admissible when “the proponent of the evidence establishes that the principle has achieved general acceptance in the scientific field to which it belongs.” Id. The Frye test is not used when testimony is “a matter of physical comparison rather than scientific test or experiment”, “the basic data upon which the expert relied was verifiable by the factfinder”, or “where established techniques were applied to the solution of novel problems.” Id. Alabama only uses the Daubert standard when the issue in question is the “admissibility of DNA evidence.” Id. In all other situations, Alabama follows the Alabama Rule of Evidence 702 to determine the admissibility of “nonscientific expert testimony.” Id. The test for DNA evidence under the Daubert standard is two fold and asks “Are the theory and the technique … on which the proffered DNA forensic evidence is based reliable?” and “Are the theory and the technique … on which the proffered DNA evidence is based relevant to understanding the evidence or to determining a fact in issue?” Turner v. State, 746 So.2d 355 (Ala. 1998). To help answer these questions, the court should consider: “(1) testing; (2) peer review; (3) rate of error; and (4) general acceptance.” Harris v. State, 2 So.3d 880 (Ala. Crim. App. 2007).
Download SEAK’s: 247 Sample Deposition Questions for Expert Witnesses