Frye Motion


The term Frye motion comes from the case, Frye v. United States 293 F. 1013 ( D.C.. Cir 1923).  In Frye, the court held that evidence could be admitted in court only if “the thing from which the deduction is made” is “sufficiently established to have gained general acceptance in the particular field in which it belongs.”  The case discussed the admissibility of paoygraph test as evidence.  The test was not widely accepted in 1923 and therefore the court ruled that poygrapb test could not be used in court.  The decision held that expert testimony based on expert’s credintials, experience, skill and reputation should be admitted.   

Frye motion is a special type of motion in limine.  The motion is raised before or during trial, to exclude the presentation of unqualified evidence to the jury.  The motion is usually used to preclude or exclude scientific evidence that is not the result of a theory that has “general acceptance” in the scientific community.

The Frye test sets forth an exclusionary rule of evidence that applies only when a party wishes to introduce novel scientific evidence obtained from the conclusions of an expert scientific witness.  Under Frye, a party wishing to introduce such evidence must demonstrate to the trial court that the relevant scientific community has reached general acceptance of the principles and methodology employed by the expert witness before the trial court will allow the expert witness to testify regarding his/her conclusions.  However, the conclusions reached by the expert witness need not be generally accepted.  Thus, a court’s inquiry into whether a particular scientific process is generally accepted is an effort to ensure that the result of the scientific process.

In 1975, Congress adopted the Federal Rules of Evidence.  The Supreme Court held that Frye was part of the federal common law of evidence and when common law rules conflicted with the Roles of Evidence, the Rules of Evidence prevailed.