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Why Are Lie Detectors Not Admissible in Court

It`s not exactly breaking news: Saxony`s 1983 report to Congress led to a nationwide ban on private employers conducting lie detector tests on employees, and a 1998 Supreme Court ruling ruled against the use of polygraph evidence in some federal courts because “there is simply no consensus on the reliability of polygraph evidence.” The truth about lie detectors is that we all really want them to work. It would be much easier if, with two contradictory versions of the same event, there was a machine capable of telling which side was telling the truth. This is what the innovators behind the modern polygraph wanted to do – but the scientific community has its doubts about the polygraph, and around the world it remains controversial. Even its inventor was afraid to call it a “lie detector.” More importantly, the court left it up to the states to decide whether the test could even be taken to court. Today, 23 states allow the admission of lie detector tests as evidence in a trial, and many of these states require bipartisan consent. The results of a lie detector test are almost always never admitted to court. Indeed, most courts do not consider the results of the polygraph to be scientifically reliable and therefore do not allow them to be used as evidence. The judges are also concerned that a jury will give too much credibility to a “pseudoscientific” test. However, in Texas, as in most states, polygraph results are not allowed in criminal trials.

Here`s why: Even though it`s unlikely that the test results will be admitted to court, the things you say before or after the test can be allowed. You may be thinking that if the results are not used against me in court, why not take the test? Although polygraphs are also called lie detectors, in reality, a polygraph does not have the reliable ability to recognize the truth or falsehood of a statement. Machines measure a person`s biological processes to determine if they are stressed during interrogations. Factors such as an increase in blood pressure or heart rate are measured. While these may indicate that a person is lying, they may also simply indicate that a suspect feels pressured by the interrogation, even if he is telling the truth. Even if you “pass” a lie detector test, it won`t help you in a criminal case. But numerous court decisions have ensured that this will not be the case. Although polygraph technology has continued to improve and the questioning process has become more systematic and standardized, scientists and legal experts have remained divided on the effectiveness of the device.

Since the criminal justice system relies so heavily on people telling the truth, many people wonder why lie detectors are not commonly used in most cases. In Florida, California, Georgia, and Nevada, lie detector tests can be used if everyone agrees, but there are different opinions about the accuracy of the test. In California, lawyers can present the results to judges and allow them to decide. Georgia allows defendants who suffer due to an incorrect result on a polygraph to sue the polygraph operator for damages. Florida is the only state that can require certain defendants to take lie detector tests — in this case, sex offenders who have already been convicted, though the test results cannot be used in court. Then, after his Polygraph findings secured a conviction in a 1935 murder trial (by prior agreement between the defense and the prosecution), Keeler — Larson`s protégé — asserted that “lie detector results in court are as acceptable as fingerprint testimony.” Andrew Segal is a former judge and prosecutor who now represents the defendant as a criminal defense attorney in Huntsville, Alabama. Andrew graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in 1982. and Washington College of Law at American University in 1988. A 1998 Supreme Court decision concluded that the risk of false alarms is too high as long as this is the case. The polygraph test, according to the court, enjoys an “aura of infallibility” scientifically, although “there is simply no consensus on the reliability of polygraph evidence” and ruled that passing the test cannot be considered evidence of innocence.

Therefore, participation in the test must remain voluntary and its results must never be presented as conclusive. Despite the 1988 legal ban on private employers using polygraph tests and the 1998 court ruling that their findings are inadmissible as evidence in federal courts, there are huge loopholes — and they are exploited by federal employers, law enforcement, probation officers and others. Over the years, the U.S. Supreme Court has made numerous decisions on whether lie detector tests should be admitted as evidence in criminal trials. Before Larson`s invention, courts treated lie detection tests with suspicion. In a 1922 case, a judge barred presenting the results of a pre-polygraph lie detector to the court, fearing that the test, despite its unreliability, could have an undue impact on a jury`s opinion. And you know what? You have to rely on the police to tell you how you passed the test. If you watch a TV show about real crimes or dramas, you`ll often see clues for lie detector tests. But a diagnosis of deception doesn`t necessarily mean someone actually lied. A polygraph test does not directly detect deception; it only shows stress, which is why Larson fought so hard against him that he was classified as a “lie detector”. Testers have various ways of inferring deception (for example, through control questions), but according to the American Psychological Association, the inference process is “structured but not standardized” and should not be called “lie detection.” The FBI gives a lie detector test to every person considered for a job there.

When the DEA, CIA and other agencies are considered, about 70,000 people a year submit to polygraphs while seeking security clearances and jobs in the federal government. “Basically, they took the technology of the 19th century and put it in a box” It doesn`t matter if the test actually works, only that it is perceived as effective. But Saxony believes that for some people, a less cynical factor may be involved — something more akin to myth or religion than science. Within months, a local newspaper convinced Larson to publicly test his invention on a man suspected of killing a priest. Larson`s machine, which he called cardiopulmonary psychogram, indicated the suspect`s guilt; The press called the invention a lie detector.