Fun fact: There are 23 holidays that can be celebrated today, December 1st. Some, like Rosa Parks Day and World AIDS Day, are solemn and serious. Others are silly and fun, like National Peppermint Bark Day and National Christmas Lights Day. And then there are those that are downright strange, like Bifocals at the Monitor Liberation Day. (No, we didn’t make that up.) But for those of us who practice in the federal courts, we can add one more celebration to this esteemed list.
Today, the long-anticipated amendments to Federal Rule of Evidence 702, governing admissibility of expert opinion evidence, finally take formal effect. The amendments were unanimously approved by the Advisory Committee over two and a half years ago. Courts have been citing the proposed amendments since shortly after they were first approved. On the surface, the amendments to the text of Rule 702 itself may appear relatively modest. Indeed, at least one court has observed that the new language “clearly echoes the existing law on the issue.” Sardis v. Overhead Door Corp., 10 F.4th 268 (4th Cir. 2021). But there is more to these new amendments than initially meets the eye. In order to understand and effectively use the amendments, parties and litigators must understand and use the history and the Committee Note explaining the amendments.