If you provide testimony as an expert witness, you could soon be facing some new challenges from opposing attorneys regarding the opinions you will be rendering in the courtroom. Effective January 1, 2012, Arizona joined several other states that have adopted the Federal Rules of Evidence relating to expert witnesses, i.e., the “Daubert” standard.
The Arizona Supreme Court Weighs In
A.R.S. §12-2203 did not have any teeth, however, until September 7, 2011, when the Arizona Supreme Court approved the Petition to Amend Rules of Evidence and Rule 17.4 (f), Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure (“the Petition”). This is because the Arizona Supreme Court, not the state legislature, is responsible for deciding the procedural rules that Arizona courts must follow.
What the Arizona Supreme Court did was to amend several of Arizona’s Rules of Evidence with the Petition. The Petition’s Prefatory Comment to 2012 Amendments summarizes three kinds of changes:
“(1) the Arizona rules have generally been restyled so that they correspond to the Federal Rules of Evidence as restyled. These ‘restyling’ changes are not meant to change the admissibility of evidence; (2) in several instances, the Arizona rules have also been amended to ‘conform’ to the federal rules, and these changes may alter the way in which evidence is admitted (see, e.g., Rule 702); and (3) in some instances, the Arizona rules either retain language that is distinct from the federal rules (see, e.g., Rule 404), or deliberately depart from the language of the federal rules (see, e.g., Rule 412).”
The Prefatory Comment concludes with: “Where the language of an Arizona rule parallels that of a federal rule, federal court decisions interpreting the federal rule are persuasive but not binding with respect to interpreting the Arizona rule.”
Don Bays, CPA/ABV/CFF, CVA