Michigan adopts Federal Rule of Evidence 702. Will other states follow?


By: Joshua W. Zhao and Jonathan Schwartz

On March 27, 2024, the Michigan Supreme Court amended Rule 702 of the Michigan Rules of Evidence (MRE), effective May 1, 2024. This amendment makes MRE 702 identical to Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE), following its 2023 amendment. Michigan is now one of the first states to adopt the new federal rule. Will this amendment of MRE 702 be a harbinger of other states’ adoption of the amendment to FRE 702? 

The amendment to MRE 702 requires that the proponent putting forth an expert witness demonstrate that it is “more likely than not” that the expert’s knowledge will help the fact-finder, be based on sufficient facts and data, be the product of reliable principles and methods, and reflect a “reliable application” of such principles and methods to the facts of the case. Prior to the amendment, FRE 702 and MRE 702 considered whether principles and methods were “reliably applied” instead of a “reliable application.” Notably, the committee notes to FRE 702 state that “more likely than not” was added to clarify that expert testimony may not be admitted unless the proponent meets the appropriate admissibility requirements. Further, the change from “reliably applied” to “reliable application” is intended to encourage greater focus on the expert’s methodology. 

The emphasis on expert testimony’s reliability is embedded in Michigan law. The Michigan Supreme Court explained that the fundamental duty of a court is to ensure that all expert testimony is reliable and that this gatekeeper role applies to every aspect of expert analysis. See Gilbert v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 470 Mich. 749, 781-82 (2004). The Michigan Supreme Court specifically warned that allowing experts to extrapolate from data without ensuring reliability leads to an “analytical gap” and facilitates the “surreptitious advance of junk science and spurious, unreliable opinions.” Notably, in actions involving death or injury, MCL 600.2955 specifically requires a multifactor analysis of reliability, including whether the opinion has been subject to scientific testing and replication, peer review publication, the existence of generally accepted standards, potential error rate, whether the opinion is generally accepted within the expert community, whether the basis is reliable, and whether the methodology or opinion would be relied upon outside of litigation.  

For more information, please contact Josh Zhao at, Jonathan Schwartz at, or your local FMG attorney.