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Ohio Court Admits Lie Detector Tests As Evidence 198

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the good-enough-for-maury dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last month, an Ohio court set a new precedent by allowing polygraph test results to be entered as evidence in a criminal trial. Do lie detectors really belong in the court room? AntiPolygraph.org critiques the polygraph evidence from the this precedential case (Ohio v. Sharma)."
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Ohio Court Admits Lie Detector Tests As Evidence

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  • Ohio, eh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:39AM (#20520583)
    I was thinking about moving to a different State, but hadn't figured out which one. Now I'm down to 49 possibilities.
    • by PsychoSlashDot (207849) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:46AM (#20520625)

      I was thinking about moving to a different State, but hadn't figured out which one. Now I'm down to 49 possibilities.


      Given your subject line of "Ohio, eh?" and you're moving to a different state, and that you're down to 49 possibilities, I can only conclude you're one of those that view Canada as the 51st state. Come on up, we've got plenty of room, beer, and freshly-clubbed baby seals to go around. You do like hockey, eh?
      • Okay, so I just woke up and haven't had any coffee and I can't do arithmetic yet. Sheesh.

        No, I've been to Canada several times, and while I don't consider you the "51st State" at least you are civilized, more than some places further south, believe me. I dunno about the hockey ... you do have big-screen TVs up there, don't you? I like to be able to see the puck.
      • freshly-clubbed baby seals
        Nearly lunch time, that must be why I feel like having some veal [wikipedia.org], huh?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by siyavash (677724)
      Maybe the free state project in New Hampshire is something you'll like : http://www.freestateproject.org./ [www.freestateproject.org]
    • I was thinking about moving to a different State, but hadn't figured out which one. Now I'm down to 49 possibilities.

      Wouldn't that be 48 possibilities? 48 + Current + Ohio. Or is DC being counted? :-)
    • by yomahz (35486)

      I was thinking about moving to a different State, but hadn't figured out which one. Now I'm down to 49 possibilities.


      Maybe this [imdb.com] will change your mind.
  • by bossesjoe (675859) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:40AM (#20520591)
    ...as long as people are still searching for some magical way to get the truth out of somebody. Won't happen short of the next fifty years of neurological research.
    • Nothing current fMRI technology can't handle... But the problem is not with technology, the problem is with the gray area between truth and lies. The really good lairs are the ones that convince themselves that their lies are the truth. In other words they can sort of brainwash themselves.

      Something similar happens during long police interrogations, the person being interrogated first is subjected to stress (16 hours of interrogation), they are bullied and yelled at, that lowers their confidence level to a p

      • by gvc (167165) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @11:00AM (#20521149)

        I bet at that point if the interrogated person is subjected to a lie detector, they will actually believe that the alternative sequence of events was actually the truth.
        This statement presupposes that the lie detector can determine someone's belief. It cannot, at least not any better than Tarot cards or tea leaves.
        • by ls -la (937805)

          I bet at that point if the interrogated person is subjected to a lie detector, they will actually believe that the alternative sequence of events was actually the truth.

          This statement presupposes that the lie detector can determine someone's belief. It cannot, at least not any better than Tarot cards or tea leaves.

          No, it really doesn't. The statement doesn't actually make a conclusion or rely on any external presuppositions. The GP was just stating that by the time the police administer the lie detector, there's a good chance that the victim has already been essentially brainwashed by the police into believing he or she is guilty. No assumptions.

          • by gvc (167165)
            With your interpretation, the clause "if the interrogated person is subjected to a lie detector" would be useless, having no more meaning than "if pink unicorns orbited pluto." The presumption that the clause is useful, i.e. that the use of a lie detector has some relationship to whether the subject's belief, is implicit in its having included it in the statement.
            • by thegnu (557446)

              The presumption that the clause is useful, i.e. that the use of a lie detector has some relationship to whether the subject's belief, is implicit in its having included it in the statement.

              Do you know what a polygraph tests? It tests variance in body stress incurred by answering certain questions when compared to control questions (that the tester knows the answer to), BLEARGH! [wikipedia.org]

              Therefore, it would make sense that the person's belief would make a difference. A polygraph does not detect lies. It detects bod

      • Oblig. Simpsons [youtube.com]
    • "Lie" detectors are very useful tools. First they should really be called stress detectors. Second, knowing what questions are introducing stress can be very useful information to an investigator. No way should it be used against a person in court, but investigators are often called upon to make educated guesses as to whether someone is being truthful or not. Reading non-verbal cues is art not science and it has practical value every day to law enforcement and investigators.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jonny_eh (765306)
        Exactly! Just like a cop can't say in court "The defendant is a liar because he looks like one", a strss/lie detector should also be inadmissible in court. It still remains useuful to law enforcement though.
    • Back in the 70's I had to pass one for a job I was applying for, I couldn't pass the test questions due to an irregular heartbeat high blood pressure and (at that time) overweight.

      If I can illustrate the kinds of test questions that were asked. Do you drink (yes) Bzzt, wrong answer. Are you male (yes) Bzzt, wrong answer. Is it daytime (yes) Bzzt, wrong answer.

      Any technology that cannot tell if a fat male drunk is awake in the daytime ain't worth a damn!

      No, I didn't get the job.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hlh_nospam (178327)
      The only thing worse than lie detector technology that doesn't work reliably, is lie detector technology that *does* work reliably. The only reason societies don't outlaw certain types of thought is that they are not detectable -- yet.
  • by Elemenope (905108) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:42AM (#20520601)
    antipolygraph.com? Well, anyway, this is quite unfortunate, especially if polygraphs are as unreliable as they have always been...and I haven't seen or heard anything to suggest that they aren't.
    • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:52AM (#20520671)
      I remember seeing a clip of Groucho being subjected to a polygraph from the 50s, and while funny, it didn't inspire any sort of confidence in the technology.

      I agree, that considering how many minor things are consider to taint the jury, a polygraph is probably just about the worst of them. The reliability just isn't there, and even when they are accurate, they don't really give any indication of what the lie actually is.

      Worse, they tend to work worse when the subject is already under stress. Overall, the technology just isn't there, and won't ever get there. If anything is more reliable, it'll be of a different form, probably something that scans the brain directly. Even that though is going to be tough.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gvc (167165)

        Worse, they tend to work worse when the subject is already under stress.


        The above statement presupposes that lie detectors work at all. This presupposition is unsupported by evidence. So the statement is akin to "mediums are not as able to recall the dead if there's a skeptic in the room."
      • Worse, they tend to work worse when the subject is already under stress

        My understanding is that they are really stress detectors. The flawed assumption is that stress indicates deception.
        • by hedwards (940851)
          Close, from what I gather, they are supposed to measure changes in stress. Meaning that when one lies one should be more stressed than just before.

          So somebody who is already horribly stressed, whether because they are guilty or just because they are possibly going to be falsely imprisoned is not going to be a good candidate.

          The issue with somebody that is already under stress, is that the higher the background stress level, the noisier the data and the less likely that the examiner is going to get anything
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by amchugh (116330)
        There was a wired article [wired.com] on fMRI lie detectors.
      • I agree, that considering how many minor things are consider to taint the jury, a polygraph is probably just about the worst of them. The reliability just isn't there, and even when they are accurate, they don't really give any indication of what the lie actually is..
        And that's why this is guaranteed to be overturned on appeal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kythe (4779)
      Antipolygraph.org makes no pretense as to being "unbiased"--they're an advocacy group. But the information they provide is scrupulously documented and referenced, and it comes from some of the most credentialed scientific sources. They've done their homework.
      • by Elemenope (905108)

        I'm not complaining about antipolygraph.com per se. What I was complaining about (and I suppose I should have been more clear) was that the /. editors saw fit to make their site the main citation for the posted story with no supplementary material that perhaps covered the matter from a less, um, tainted perspective.

        • I'm not complaining about antipolygraph.com per se. What I was complaining about (and I suppose I should have been more clear) was that the /. editors saw fit to make their site the main citation for the posted story with no supplementary material that perhaps covered the matter from a less, um, tainted perspective.

          You're not supposed to read TFA article anyway, much less get all huffy about little details like objective reporting and balance. This isn't Fox news. Oh, wait.

        • What's so tainted about the source? Or are you one of those people who now demands equal time for any opposition views under the assumption that things are never black and white?
          • by Elemenope (905108)

            No, I do not demand equal time; that would be silly, and I agree that lately the demand for equal time for absurd positions has become irritating.

            But, I would like the original story told by someone who doesn't have an obvious vested interest in one side. If the vast majority of evidence indicates that that side is correct, then I have no problem with all supplementary material coming from that source. As this purports to be a news posting site, it would be nice if the original articles were, um, news,

    • I personally know someone who beat a polygraph test, lying and not getting caught.
      And the one time I took one, it was inconclusive on some of the things I was telling the truth about, and it didn't take into account some things that I had forgotten, but remembered after the test.
      Granted, there can be a difference in skill using one, but that's just more evidence that they are not black and white as most poeple seem to think.
    • Even better story (Score:3, Informative)

      by nbauman (624611)
      George W. Maschke, the founder of Antipolygraph, posted a nice statement of why he founded his web site. https://antipolygraph.org/statements/statement-00 3 .shtml [antipolygraph.org]

      The guy sounds like a real straight arrow, super-patriotic American who worked with a Top Secret clearance for U.S. Army Intelligence and with the FBI on the first World Trade Center bombing, and who was particularly valuable because of his fluency in Arabic and Farsi. After doing exempliary work, he applied for a job as FBI special agent, but
      • by hazem (472289)
        Holy sh*t! Geroge Maschke? I did some extra Arabic language training with him at BYU when we were both in the Army. All of us from my unit had clearances who were there, and I expect he did too. He was an incredible Arabic linguist and I imagine his Farsi was pretty good too.

        I only knew him personally for the 2 weeks of the training but we corresponded for some time after that. He seemed like a pretty sharp guy and very dedicated to his work and languages.

        I enjoyed studying with him as he really pushed
    • by nwbvt (768631)

      Here [cleveland.com] is what appears to be a slightly more reliable source. Though considering the lack of search results (the first five consisted of nothing but results from that antipolygraph.com site, the wikipedia, and /.), I'm still far from convinced of the accuracy of this story. This still could be one of those rumors that started on out a message board (in this case on a site whose sole purpose is to disparage polygraphs) and grew into a news story. Please, editors, verify that the submissions you get are not

  • Well, if our Precedent can beat a lie detector, then I don't think they should be allowed in courts...
  • by deblau (68023) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:47AM (#20520629) Journal
    Getting evidence admitted is one thing, but getting a jury to believe it or give it any weight or credibility is something else entirely.
    • Exactly. Any lawyer that wasn't found through a TV commercial would be able to make it seem ridiculous.
      • by Elemenope (905108) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @10:38AM (#20520971)

        That's fantastic! That means only people who can't afford better lawyers than the schmucks on TV will be imprisoned, and who cares about them, anyway?

        But, to lose the sarcasm for a moment, most defendant protections in criminal law were developed so as to defend even the indigent, since they are the most vulnerable to unfairness seeing as how their lawyers either suck or are overworked (or both). If a method of obtaining evidence is bad enough that a decently trained lawyer can demonstrate its utter ridiculousness, it does not belong in a courtroom in the first place. The competence of the defendant's lawyer should not be depended upon as the single fail-safe employed to determine whether a person should be deprived of their freedom.

    • Getting evidence admitted is one thing, but getting a jury to believe it or give it any weight or credibility is something else entirely.

      You seem to forget the concept of "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt". Admitting polygraph evidence for the *defense* would tend to create such doubt in the mind of jurors, regardless of how hard the prosecution tried to convince them to ignore it.

      Actually, this whole case stinks. First, the judge admitted the polygraph evidence. Then, the defendant waived a jury trial. Then the judge, based in part on said polygraph evidence, found the defendant not guilty. So the judge allowed the evidence, despite i

    • Getting evidence admitted is one thing, but getting a jury to believe it or give it any weight or credibility is something else entirely.

      That may be true, but that certainly doesn't mean that there shouldn't be stringent standards of what evidence should be admissible. How about spectral evidence [wikipedia.org], should that be admissible on the grounds that the jury wouldn't give it any crediblilty? (In some parts of the US, I personally wouldn't want to test that theory.)

      Lots of potential evidence is not admissible

    • by phliar (87116)

      Surely you jest. A jury going against what the judge said? On what basis?

      They're always called lie-detectors on TV, ergo they detect lies -- that's the end of it.

  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spyfrog (552673) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:48AM (#20520635) Homepage
    "Do lie detectors really belong in the court room?"

    No. Next question please.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by StikyPad (445176)
      You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise crawling toward you. You reach down and flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't, not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that, Spyfrog?
  • Nope (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symes (835608) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:51AM (#20520657) Journal
    Imho, polygraphs should not be used. The simple reason is that some of the more violent and unpleasant people, psychopaths [wikipedia.org], show blunted responses in psychophysiological tests compared to your 'regular' violent perpetrator. As psychopaths tend to be the ones we should really keep off the streets then a misinformed jury might take polygraph results as definitive evident the perpetrator (psychopath) had not committed the offense and judge accordingly. Also, with a bit of practice and insight, some people are able to control their responses or give misleading results. There's no definitive objective means determining whether someone is telling the truth or not... next to honest evidence the polygraph is pretty useless. It's a nice idea but anyone who has used these psychophysiological tests will know, for every half decent result you also get a fair bit of noise (excluding, of course, the people ho make and sell polygraph tests).
  • by SEMW (967629) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:54AM (#20520689)
    The most common figure for the accuracy of polygraph tests is 70%. Which sounds reasonable, until you realise that since the situation is binomal -- i.e. the only possible results are "truth" and "lie", so pure chance (e.g. flipping a coin) would give you 50% accuracy; at which point 70% starts to look considerably less impressive.

    As I understand it, the most useful (from the police's point of view) way to use of lie detectors is psychological: pretend that they're 100% accurate, get the suspect to say "I didn't do it", bluff and claim that "The Machine Knows You're Lying", and get them to give a confession that way. Of course, such a strategy will fail if the polygraph becomes so widely used that everyone becomes familiar with its limitations.
    • by Kandenshi (832555) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @10:25AM (#20520887)
      There are policing agencies out there who already do similar things. Despite it's absense, they may explain that there's incontrevertible evidence that shows that the suspect is guitly, they just want a confession so that the trial goes faster and with less fuss/humiliation for others/etc...

      Turns out that one can get a fairly large number of confessions that way, much like you apparently desire. The problem is, it's not all THAT uncommon for the confessions to be lies. Innocent people will lie and confess to horrible, horrible crimes. And a confession given to a jury is a really really good predictor of them finding the defendent guitly. Even if there's little to no other evidence. People tend to believe confessions, which is sort of confusing since they have to reconcile the idea that "this is a dangerous lunatic with no morals and a willingness to kill" against "this is an honest man, who will condemn himself to jail by giving a confession". Still, they manage it.

      Feel free to read a bit more about the subject of false confessions here [psychologytoday.com], on some webnotes for a college class here [72.14.205.104] or even here [innocenceproject.org](this last one is perhaps more likely to cherrypick it's evidence, but what it says appears to be true).

      False confessions are a rather worrying thing to me, as once a person confesses, the police have a tendency to cease looking for other potential guilty parties. While it's possible some other person will eventually be found guilty and you get released, it's not really something that The System tries for. Makes 'em look bad if they accidentally put someone in jail and gave 'em a whole bunch of publicity as a convicted rapist.
      • by Alsee (515537) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @04:06PM (#20523237) Homepage
        Maybe someone else can come up with a link, but I recall some time ago reading a hysterical story about some police officers with a fax machine in the interrogation room and telling the dopey criminal that it was a lie detector... no special chair and no blood pressure monitors or anything connected to the machine just a plain old fax sitting on a shelf... and second officer in the adjacent room simply faxing in "lie" and "true" messages... and very quickly having the guy terrified of this "mind-reading machine" and spilling his guts.

        -
    • by gvc (167165) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @11:12AM (#20521221)

      The most common figure for the accuracy of polygraph tests is 70%.

      No repeatable study or sequence of studies has demonstrated that the polygraph as deployed for interrogation, screening or any other diagnostic purpose, has 70% accuracy. Or, to be more precise, better than 30% false positive or false negative rates.


      The argument is not well served by taking figures like this from the air. If you care to cite a particular study, we can debate its methodology, statistical power, and freedom from confounds such as selective sampling or lack of blinding to the "true" result.

      • I entirely agree. Furthermore, nobody is going to do such a study. Scientists won't because there's really no scientific theory that would account for it working. The polygraph community isn't going to do one because they have nothing to gain and everything to lose from such a study.

        The fact that an "examiner" must be present and is the one "evaluating" the result makes the whole process quite suspect. If I get an EKG, or an MRI, or some other diagnostic test, the process is usually handled by a nurse or te
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SEMW (967629)

        The argument is not well served by taking figures like this from the air. If you care to cite a particular study, we can debate its methodology, statistical power, and freedom from confounds such as selective sampling or lack of blinding to the "true" result.

        I didn't realise there was much of an argument to be had. The 70% figure was remembered from a chapter on polygraph testing in a book I read about 5 years ago, not any particular study; if you want to read the details of particular studies, there are a few hundred out there, and Google is your friend (for example this 2003 meta-study [nap.edu]). They all seem to broadly agree that polygraph testing, whilst significantly better than chance, still isn't very good (e.g. the meta-study linked to concluded that a polyg

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gvc (167165)
          I can't tell you how to spend your next $3.00 but I suggest that you might get that much value -- entertainment if nothing else -- from reading a primary source rather than relying on Wikipedia paraphrasals

          The meta-study found only 57 studies that were carried out with sufficient rigor to be considered. Of those, some but not all showed that under laboratory conditions the polygraph showed better than chance results. The result specifically notes that these laboratory findings likely overestimate (i.e. ar
    • by hazem (472289)
      As I understand it, the most useful (from the police's point of view) way to use of lie detectors is psychological: pretend that they're 100% accurate, get the suspect to say "I didn't do it", bluff and claim that "The Machine Knows You're Lying", and get them to give a confession that way.

      Read up on the high-pressure interrogation method konwn as the Reid Technique. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reid_technique [wikipedia.org]

      According to some of the websites that discuss it, even a non-negligible percentage of people who
  • Lie detectors don't detect lies, contrary to the device's name. They detect physiologal responses to stress, such as elevated blood pressure, pulse, respiratory changes, and sometimes body temperature. All of these things can be "faked". During the initial questioning process that they use to gauge your bodies responses, simply answer a question you know as being true while you clench your ass checks (change in respirations and pulse), or while you try to mimick pain (thumb tac under big toe concealed in
    • by Hatta (162192)
      Any test that can possibly provide false results should never be used (IMHO) when the resulting information could possibly deny a man his freedom.

      Any test can provide false results. That's why we have the concept of reasonable doubt.
  • by slashqwerty (1099091) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:58AM (#20520717)
    The most common lie detector, the control question test, takes a set of baseline readings where the suspect is expected to tell the truth on some questions and lie on others. It then compares those results to the questions the examiner is most interested in. These tests have been shown to product accurate results about 65% of the time (that's per person tested).

    Professional polygraphers will claim their test works 96% of the time. Those claims are bald-faced lies. Regardless of that we can take a look at what happens if the test really did work 96% of the time.

    Some employers have been known to hire polygraphers to identify which employee may have been involved in some inside theft (or similar situation). The employer asks the polygrapher to test 50 employees. The odds that the tests will be correct with all 50 employees is 0.96^50=13%. So there is an 87% chance the test will accuse an innocent person...and that assumes the test is correct 96% of the time. What invariably happens is the polygrapher 'discovers' the culprit after the first few tests, packs up his things, and goes home. He identifies the suspect so quickly because the test is only right 65% of the time. Whether the accuracy is 65% of 96% the test will still point to a suspect even if none of the employees did anything wrong.

    • by ettlz (639203)

      Professional polygraphers will claim their test works 96% of the time. Those claims are bald-faced lies.
      "Polygrapher plot thyself!"
    • by gvc (167165)

      These tests have been shown to product accurate results about 65% of the time (that's per person tested).

      Please cite a reference. The statement asserts that polygraph tests have better than chance diagnostic capability and if that has been demonstrated in the literature, I would like to hear about it.

      However, I'm skeptical based, if nothing else, on how the result is paraphrased. It is not hard to make a test that has 0 diagnostic capability be "accurate 65% of the time." Here are two examples:

      1. I have

      • You're forgetting, the lie detector is part of an interrogation. I'd expect any skilled interogation, with or without a polygraph, to give better results than mere chance, so even if the polygraph adds nothing, it's still reasonable to have significantly better results than 50%.
        • by barzok (26681)
          In "skilled interrogations," interrogators have been able to get confessions out of people who were 100% innocent - those people just wanted the misery of the interrogation to end.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by SuperCharlie (1068072)
      A long time ago, I worked in a pawn shop. Somebody got a wild hair and decided everyone had to take polys to remain employed. They were looking for previous thefts, nothing specific, just if we had ever taken anything in the past.

      I needed the job badly and I was terrified, being only around 21 or so at the time. I never took anything and I failed miserably because when they asked if youve ever stolen anything I was so nervous about setting it off.. right.. I set it off apparently. I got fired, no recours
    • Professional polygraphers will claim their test works 96% of the time. Those claims are bald-faced lies
      Well obviously to know this you must have a superior lie-detection scheme. Let's have it!
  • the mid evil times there was a much better method of figuring out if someone was lying. Just make them walk 10 paces with red hot glowing iron in the arms, if they where talking the truth god would protect them.
  • by GoatRavisher (779902) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @10:01AM (#20520745)
    I once interviewed for a job and was told that I would be required to handwrite a statement so it could be analyzed by their "handwriting expert." I promptly got up and left. They looked shocked. Apparently they initially tried polygraphing applicants, but found it to be too expensive. Years later I bumped into the HR person at another job and asked her about the success of the vetting process. She said it didn't work and if anything made things worse.
  • Traditional lie detector tests can easily be tricked into whatever answer you want. Functional MRI [newscientist.com] (fMRI) are the only form of lie detector that should be trusted to be used in a court. At least the probability of defrauding a fMRI lie detector is much lower than traditional lie detector tests.
    • Polygraph, voice stress analysis, fMRI, Tarot cards, have equal diagnostic value. Zero.

      To be more precise, no study has yet demonstrated that any is more or less effective than the others.
  • by Robber Baron (112304) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @10:25AM (#20520885) Homepage
    It doesn't "detect lies"!!! It detects physiological changes ONLY! Determining what those changes actually mean is entirely subjective and open to varied interpretations!
  • The Quija board will be allowed to be presented as evidence. After all, it is almost as accurate as the polygraph.
  • And the use of a polygraph is really useless, it may be working for the average man that has a "normal" mind, but persons with a skewed mind may not at all provide the expected response.

    And as noted - statistics works against the polygraph. There is a reason why it's not used all over the world.

    Some medication may also cause an unexpected outcome - either causing the person to be more relaxed or being more tense.

    Let's stick to hard evidence. If there is a lack of evidence it's better to wait - at leas

  • IMO, a lie detector test amounts to a statement by the defendant. And as such, I feel that it should be strictly under the control of the defendant whether it is admitted in the trial or not. The defendant can invoke their right against self incrimination and refuse to let it be admitted, or they can choose to testify and let it be admitted.

    If you read the article, that is precisely what happened here. It would bother me if the court were introducing polygraph evidence over the objection of the defense.
    • by thegnu (557446)
      IMO, a lie detector test amounts to a statement by the defendant.
      Yes, except they should just leave the polygraph machine disconnected. We should just have a machine that randomly flashes lights, beeps, and plays a recording that says, "LIAR!!" really loud. That'll help convict some bastards, too.
  • by DumbSwede (521261) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Saturday September 08, 2007 @10:48AM (#20521057) Homepage Journal
    In this case it is the DEFENSE offering the lie-detector evidence. Most sexual molestation/battery cases come down to he-said she-said. Lots of innocent people have been convicted under these circumstances. While lie-detectors are not perfect I think in this type of situation they are perhaps appropriate. I would not allow them for prosecution (which is what I think a lot of knee-jerk post here have assumed) and only in cases where the evidence comes down to what is being said by two people, which appears to be what the Judge has decided in this case. While lie-detectors are only about 70% accurate, that is better odds than deciding just on the demeanor of two people in court.

    I can sympathize that women are outraged by the high number of men that get off scott-free with these type of charges, but that doesn't alter the fact that it really isn't fair to convict someone on nothing more than an accusation by one person without direct supporting evidence (bruises are not direct evidence). Yes direct evidence is hard to come by in these cases, they are usually executed in private without other witnesses, but I for one would rather see 10 guilty men free than send 1 innocent man to jail.
    • by Alicat1194 (970019) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @12:17PM (#20521653)
      In this case it is the DEFENSE offering the lie-detector evidence.

      It doesn't matter if the side offering the evidence is the defense or the prosecution - once the evidence is accepted it sets a (potentially dangerous) precedent.

    • by Alsee (515537)
      Good idea. In fact lets require the defense to preform a lie detector test in all cases.

      If the defense does not submit the test as evidence in court, then just throw the guilty fucker in prison. That sure makes things a lot quicker and easier.

      -
    • by jadavis (473492)
      I can sympathize that women are outraged by the high number of men that get off scott-free with these type of charges

      What makes you think that any of the men who get off scott-free are guilty of anything?
    • by Kjella (173770)
      Remember, it's always possible to take a polygraph. So if you accept a polygraph as part of a defense, that could become a standard part of the defense since everyone wants the best defense they can get. Implicity the jury could then take the absense of a polygraph as proof that you failed it and is guilty (both spurious leaps of logic, but very possible). It's very dangerous to present such weak evidence when it can just as easily be used against you.
  • not a precedent (Score:3, Informative)

    by delong (125205) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @10:54AM (#20521095)
    This evidentiary order is not a "precedent". First, it's a mere evidentiary order. Second, the decisions of state district courts are not precedential. They aren't in any way binding on any other court. Third, this is almost certainly error and will almost certainly be reversed on appeal if it isn't harmless error. The federal rules of evidence and the rules of evidence of every state that I know of bars polygraph evidence as unreliable, and has been so held in state appellate courts. THAT is precedential.
  • The trial court fucked up by admitting polygraphs as evidence.

    -jcr

  • FTS:

    AntiPolygraph.org critiques the polygraph evidence from the this precedential case (Ohio v. Sharma)."

    See? I KNEW our Precident was a liar!
  • Which is to say, less than random 50-50. I don't see a problem.
    • by julesh (229690)
      Which is to say, less than random 50-50. I don't see a problem.

      The problem is, the jury are more likely to trust it than they are a non-polygraphed witness statement. It will lead to less accurate trial results.
  • for me, anyway.

    Every single time I take them, they ask simple questions, like "What is your name?" or "is the sky blue?" etc, I can give straight up honest answers, and it always come up that I'm lying. I'm not a "flinchy" type, but I can't pass a polygraph for love or money. So, for me, they suck, and I don't think they should be admitted in a court as evidence.

    RS

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