Frye Reed Hearing Maryland
The Court of Appeals in Reed v. State, 283 Md. 374, 391 A.2d 364 (1978) adopted and interpreted the Frye standard (Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923)) for determining the admissibility of scientific evidence:
"Before a scientific opinion will be received as evidence at trial, the basis of that opinion must be shown to be generally accepted as reliable within the expert's particular scientific field. Thus, according to the Frye standard, if a new scientific technique's validity is in controversy in the relevant scientific community, . . . then expert testimony based upon its validity cannot be admitted into evidence."
State v. Baby, 404 Md. 220, 268, 946 A.2d 463 (2007) (quoting Reed, supra, 283 Md. at 381).
Were a Frye/Reed hearing held at the trial level, we would review the record and independently apply the Frye/Reed test de novo. Wagner v. State, 160 Md. App. 531, 547, 864 A.2d 1037 (2005) (citing Wilson v. State, 370 Md. 191, 201, 803 A.2d 1034 (2002)).
A review of testimony admitted by the court is not limited to review on the record, but rather "'can and should take notice of law journal articles and articles from reliable sources,'" as well as "'judicial opinions which have considered the question, and the available legal and scientific commentaries.'" Clemons v. State, 392 Md. 339, 364, 896 A.2d 1059 (2006) (quoting Wilson, supra, 370 Md. at 201 and Reed, supra, 283 Md. at 399).
In State v. Smullen, 380 Md. 233, 844 A.2d 429 (2004), the Court of Appeals discussed whether expert testimony similar to battered spouse syndrome was appropriate. The issue in Smullen, however, was whether testimony referred to as "battered child syndrome" should be interpreted to be within the confines of statutory battered spouse syndrome, and thus subject to Frye/Reed. Smullen, supra, 380 Md. at 238, 266-68.
That case turned on whether there was sufficient evidence to raise the issue, not on whether Frye/Reed should have been applied, in the context of self-defense. By enacting CJP 10-916, the General Assembly has made evidence relating to the Battered Woman's Syndrome admissible, under circumstances set forth in the statute. Id. at 266 .
Smullen generalized that social "scientific" evidence is generally subject to a Frye analysis. Id. at 266-68.
Smullen did not address the issue as to whether a Frye/Reed analysis should be addressed on appellate review, when none was requested at trial.
In State v. Baby, the appellant raised a similar question as to whether testimony of an expert as to "rape trauma syndrome" should have been subjected to a Frye/Reed analysis. Baby, supra, 404 Md. at 223. In that case, the Court of Appeals had already granted Baby a new trial on other grounds before discussing the question. Id. at 265-66.
The threshold question in reviewing whether a Frye/Reed analysis was required, was whether the issue was preserved by a proper objection. Id. at 271.
The Court in Baby delved into the issue of Frye/Reed analysis as guidance for the circuit court on remand, should such testimony be offered again. Id. at 266-71.
Most notably, the Court concluded, "we suggest that 'rape trauma syndrome' evidence should first be subjected to Frye/Reed analysis, were an appropriate objection interposed. Id. at 271 .
In Montgomery Mutual Insurance Co. v. Chesson, the Court of Appeals remanded the case to the circuit court to hold a Frye/Reed hearing. Chesson, supra, 399 Md. at 333.
Chesson differs, however, because in that case, the trial court denied a motion in limine requesting that expert testimony be excluded. Id. at 319.
A Frye/Reed test was specifically requested, but denied by the trial court as not being a proper test for the testimony to be provided. Id. at 322-23.