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California State Frye Test

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The use of either Daubert or Frye test in the jurisdiction has become a common phenomenon to place the foundation of opinions to the contemporary scientific evidence law. The admissibility of the Daubert test has been spawned in articles over its merits and demerits, which is contrary to the Frye general acceptance test. There have been debates over which of the two tests has the standards to empower the decision making process of concerned institutions perfectly, with the supreme court in jeopardy on which test is best to adopt. The initial ambiguous effects of Daubert test have become relatively clear in decision for many federal courts where decisions are binding legally. This has resorted to reforms of torts, which focus on the malpractice of medics’ products and toxicity that play a key role in decision making (Mahle, 1999). Many states have rejected the adoption of Daubert over the Frye test, as it is perceived to empower the defendants to exclude some scientific evidence. Any type of evidence imposed has the requirements of admissibility as long as it is reliable and relevant for scientific evidence.  This is important as it enhances the revision of appropriate standards to which the scientific evidence determinations are made. The Frye test has emerged as a standard because it has established scientific evidence which is found to be important in not excluding information that otherwise could be helpful in determining the scientific evidence (Mahle, 1999).

The state of California has adopted the Frye test as the main scientific evidence to the admissibility of expert testimony. This adoption is based on People vs. Kelly, as it was perceived that it set the principles of admissibility to determine the preferred expert testimony. The People vs. Kelly case has been reviewed by the supreme court in the application of the acceptance standards, which confirmed that the affirmation of the appellate court to the opinion that is published in the admission of the scientific evidence, which is derived from the new technique, the decision has to become precedent to control the subsequent trials (Lyons, 2012). The Frye test is a reliable method applied to its establishment and the expert nature of the witness to discourse on the case at hand. The scientific evidence in the Frye has produced the scientific procedures which are deemed correct when employed to particular cases. Thus, the Kelly case has been confirmed to the allegiance to general acceptance tests which were set by the Frye test case. This has led to the rejection of courts from alternative approaches of reliability which could otherwise lead to the discretion of the court admissibility questions (Toner).

The California courts have accepted the Frye test because it has adhered to the general principle of acceptance and the courts have to go further to admit the expert testimony which must be deduced from scientific principles from which the deductions have the capability to establish the general acceptance sufficiently (Toner). The Frye test has been followed much as it employs qualified experts to assess the scientific method’s validity which is the determinant of the case issues. This has the implication that the expert witness in a Frye case must be highly qualified in deducing the validity of the scientific evidence at hand through new technique. The experts are also reserved minimally by the courts, and this enhances the critical analysis of the scientific evidence to each technique which has been employed in the case (Cheng & Yoon, 2005). This has enhanced scientific community consensus in uniformity of decisions made. Thus, the nature of the Frye test has provided protection to parties in any case, as its conservative approach to evaluate scientific evidence approach has been in consistence with the judicial needs of the case area.

The undue weight is given to the scientific evidence by the judges as the expert does present evidence in credentials which are impressive. The subsequent trial decisions are, therefore, controlled by the precedent scientific evidence presented if the evidence is derivative of the new technique with the decisions being affirmed on appeal. The state of California has adapted the Frye test due to the general acceptance of the horizontal gaze nystagmus HGN results being accepted without the foundation of the Kelly/Frye test. This is the new technique in the scope of the Frye’s field that was never admissible due to the general accepted standards (Hagan & Bertani, 1999).

The introduction of the Frye test in courts is admissible, as a standard test is essential to enhance the trial courts to decrease the admission of science deemed junk in courts. This helps to safeguard the tests of unproven scientific theories as it will minimize the jury from being influenced by the evidence, which could leave questions of the scientists’ credibility. It enhances the limitation of multiple suits due to its ability to promote the decision making uniformity.

The Kelly/Frye test applies to three point tests in its analysis of the DNA incriminating evidence. The first test is the establishment of admissibility of the evidence, as whether it has been produced by the new scientific technique. In this regard there is demonstration of reliability to the new technique being generally accepted in the field where it belongs (Hagan & Bertani, 1999). The general acceptance is the consensus of typical sections of the relevant scientific community that is qualified. The admission of the scientific evidence that is based on the new technique, and the affirmation of the decision of the appeal by the decision of the precedent, will have subsequent control over the trial unless new evidence is presented to change the logic (Pyrek, 2007).

In the second test it is required that the witnesses are to be qualified scientifically as experts in the field of the subject matter. The witness of the trial must be an expert where the scientific evidence has been formed, as it helps to understand how the new technique is employed to deduce the evidence. The proponents of the evidence in the third test have the capability to demonstrate that the evidence is based on scientific technique and can be used in the case at hand (Pyrek, 2007). Although it is not necessary to enquire about the procedures employed on whether they have been accepted by the scientific personnel, but it is a requirement to figure out whether the case do comply with the method and technique which is acceptable. Failure by the scientific evidence to provide acceptable scientific technique can lead to reversal of the defendant conviction as a result of errors in the admission of the scientific evidence (Hagan & Bertani, 1999).


The Kelly/Frye test has been applied in California as criteria which enhance assessment of scientific evidence admissibility, but it has appeared to be liberal in regard to Daubert test admission of scientific evidence. The Frye test relies on general acceptance of scientific community through consensus without focus of admissibility standards critical in evaluation of evidence admissibility based on the new scientific technique. The tests are based on impression of tests acceptance, conservatively on general acceptance. It is, thus, reasonable to deduce that the litigation of the theories of scientific evidence and techniques will exist with innovation of new techniques that in essence might be challenges to both Frye and Daubert tests to give results that guarantee the rights of everyone.

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