Changes to the Louisiana Rules of Evidence

In the 2024 Legislative Session, the Louisiana Legislature followed suit with the Federal Rules of Evidence, as it often does, and incorporated changes to its own Code of Evidence based on recent Federal amendments.

Rule 702 of The Federal Rules of Evidence were modified on December 1, 2023, in order to further distance juries from unreliable “expert” opinions. The changes to Rule 702 were as follows:

Rule 702. Testimony by Expert Witnesses

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if the proponent demonstrates to the court that it is more likely than not that:

a. the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
b. the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
c. the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
d. the expert’s opinion reflects a reliable application of the principles and methods to the facts of the       case.

Relying on these Federal changes, Act No. 88 of the Legislative Session made the following edits to Louisiana’s Code of Evidence:

Article 702. Testimony by experts

A.  A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if the proponent demonstrates to the court that it is more likely than not that:

(4) The expert’s opinion reflects a reliable application of the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

As noted in the comments to the article, this amendment did not change the law, but rather it is intended to align the language of Article 702 of the Louisiana Code of Evidence with the 2023 amendments to Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. However, the changes clearly place the burden on the party offering expert testimony to show that the opinion testimony is reliable and that there is a nexus between the expert’s methodology and the facts of the case.

This Act will go into effect on August 1, 2024.