17 April 2009

Lie Detectors and Hypnosis Inadmissible

A Colorado Court of Appeals decision makes clear that polygraph (i.e. lie detector) test results and hypnosis are not admissible in either civil or criminal cases in the state because they are junk science, even if they get into evidence only indirectly via expert testimony.

Courts may still make a harmless error analysis on appeal, to see if this inadmissible evidence was important to the result reached and affirm a ruling if it would have come out the same way without polygraph or hypnosis evidence.

Despite great court distrust of polygraphs and a federal law that greatly limits the use of polygraphs by employers, they are still widely used. For example, a friend of mine recently had to take a polygraph test in connection with the hiring process for a new law enforcement job. But, rulings like this case show that use of this tool is counterproductive if push comes to shove.

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