Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Reasonable Medical Certainty" Not Required for Admissibility, Colorado High Court Rules

The admissibility of a medical expert's opinion does not depend, in form or substance, on whether the opinion is held to a reasonable medical certainty or probability, the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled in a major decision on the subject. From the opinion:
We granted certiorari in this case to review the court of appeals' decision that the expert testimony of a certified pediatric nurse practitioner in a sexual assault case should not have been admitted by the trial court. The nurse described her findings as "suspicious" and testified that her conclusions were not based on a reasonable degree of medical certainty. After reviewing the cases on which the court of appeals based its decision, we find that the standards of admissibility set forth in those cases, including the requirement that expert medical testimony be offered with a reasonable degree of medical certainty or probability, predate the Colorado Rules of Evidence, which is the modern standard for determining the admissibility of expert testimony.
See People v. Ramirez, No. 06SC71 (Colo. Mar. 26, 2007).



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Fed. R. Evid. 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.