The FRYE STANDARD And DAUBERT TEST

Frye is argued November 7, 1923 and decided December 3, 1923.
Daubert is argued March 30, 1993 and decided June 28, 1993.

The two above cases are not rape or anything to do with rape, but are included here for several reasons, not least because a large number of cases in this database are from the United States.

Briefly, on November 20, 1920, Dr Robert Brown was murdered in his Washington home. After he was arrested on an unrelated charge, James Frye confessed to that murder, and his case was handed to two young, idealistic attorneys, who brought in William Marston and his newly invented polygraph. Frye appears to have been an habitual liar, but he convinced Marston of his innocence.

Marston may have been convinced by Frye, but the trial judge was unconvinced by Marston, and he was not allowed to testify. Frye was convicted only of second degree murder, which earned him a life sentence. He appealed his conviction, and on December 3, 1923, the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia ruled against him.

Frye was parolled in 1939, and continued to proclaim his innocence, even playing the race card, but as his victim was also black, that will have cut little ice. He died in 1956.

As for Marston, he went on to invent something far more alluring: Wonder Woman!

The Frye test became the standard for deciding the admissibility of scientific evidence. With the Daubert case, things got a lot more complicated.

Because of its complexity, I will not attempt to summarise Daubert, but here are three files for you: two to read and one to watch.

This is the judgment in Frye.
This is the judgment in Daubert (preceded by the judgment in Frye but without details of the composition of the court)
This is a five minute video that explains the Daubert case.

The above video could easily be distilled into readable form, and probably has, but the reader will probably prefer it in this format. I do.

So what is the relevance of Frye and Daubert to this database?

They, especially Frye, relate specifically to rape trauma syndrome and the child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome. Outside the courtroom, anti-rape campaigners (so-called) and similar feminist airheads, claim repeatedly that the experience of rape is so traumatising to victims of all ages that they often fail to report everything from sexual harassment to aggravated rape reasonably promptly or ever.

Not only that, many victims blame themselves and continue their relationships with their tormentors or violators. Human beings are complicated, so while this can be true in some cases, there is no earthly reason for us to believe this to be the case in all but a tiny minority. There is certainly no reason for any court or police officer to give any credibility whatsoever to a woman who comes forward in her fifties, her forties, her thirties, or even her twenties, to claim she was raped or otherwise sexually abused as a child.

And in the absence of extremely strong corroboration, there is likewise no reason for any such credence to be given to a woman who claims to have been raped last year or last month.

The Daubert case appears to widen the admissibility of so-called syndrome evidence, which is largely junk science. But by the same token it also allows admissibility of genuine expert evidence, in relation to false memories and the like.

The reader will find a brief reference to polygraphs on this page.

This page may also be of some interest regarding the practical applications of Frye and Daubert.


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