Jul 21, 2009

Lying About Lie Detectors

A recent California case demonstrates once again that police officers can engage in deception in an effort to elicit confessions.

In People v. Mays, 95 Cal. Rptr. 219 (2009), the defendant was suspected of participating in a murder.  Mays denied knowing anything about the murder and demanded a lie detector test.  Instead the cops conducted a phony lie detector test.  They connected Mays to a machine and asked him some questions, then showed him a phony written report indicating that he had failed the test.  At that point, the defendant admitted that he had been at the murder scene.

At trial, Mays claimed that his confession was inadmissible in evidence because it was the result of police trickery.  The court ruled that the confession was admissible, because the trickery did not constitute coercion. 

It's a good thing for the cops that Mays didn't ask them to take a lie detector test about the lie detector test.  They would have flunked.