Gov. Jindal signed H.B. 624 into law on June 12, 2014. The new law formally codifies the Daubert standard as Louisiana’s law governing the admissibility of expert opinion testimony in Louisiana state courts.
The Louisiana legislation provides that 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 the expert’s knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data, the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.
In contrast, New Jersey’s evidentiary rules allow for any testimony that “will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.” Under this much weaker standard, state court judges can allow New Jersey courts to hear testimony which might be barred as unreliable in federal court and in the majority of the other state’s state courts. As a result, the New Jersey courts are an attractive forum for litigation based on “junk science.”
At NJCJI’s request, the NJ Supreme Court asked its Committee on the Rules of Evidence to consider this issue. If you believe as we do that our state must amend its evidentiary rules if it hopes to keep junk science out of the courtroom and stem the tide of out-of-state plaintiffs flooding into the state, now is the time to speak up.
Comments on this issue can be directed to the chair and co-chair of the committee considering the evidentiary changes:
The Honorable Carmen Messano
Superior Court of NJ
583 Newark Ave.
Jersey City, NJ 07306-2395
The Honorable Jamie D. Happas, P.V.Cv.
Middlesex County Courthouse
56 Paterson Street
New Brunswick, 08903-0964
At a time when our state is working to create jobs and improve our economic outlook, it is imperative that our judicial system not add to the challenges our employers face by permitting unreliable opinion testimony that is soundly rejected in many competing states in the courtroom.