This Article addresses key questions about expert bioethics testimony4 from within the framework of the basic rule concerning expert witnesses, Federal Rule of Evidence 702.' This Rule6 requires judges to affirmatively answer three basic questions before admitting expert testimony: (1) does this witness qualify as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education; (2) does the testimony consist of scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge; and (3) will the testimony assist the trier of fact. Bioethics testimony presents distinctive problems in each area, on which commentators have not necessarily focused. Part II of this Article addresses the question of expert qualifications. First, it briefly surveys concerns about bioethics experts' qualifications. Part II then suggests that judges should be aware of the problem of generalization of expertise, in order to determine whether a bioethics expert is qualified to testify about a particular issue and how to limit the scope of the expert's testimony. Part 1H addresses the question of reliability. After addressing concerns regarding the reliability of nonscience testimony, it argues that, in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, judges should require parties proffering expert bioethics testimony to point to indicators of reliability used in the field of bioethics, rather than categorically exclude normative bioethics testimony. Part IV outlines the concerns about the helpfulness of bioethics testimony. It suggests that, to determine if bioethics testimony will be helpful, judges should make a threshold assessment of the relation of the bioethics testimony to current law. If the testimony conflicts directly with law, or merely restates it, the testimony should not ordinarily be admitted.
Bethany Spielman & George Agich,
The Future of Bioethics Testimony: Guidelines for Determining Qualifications, Reliability, and Helpfulness,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol36/iss4/5