“McKinney Polygraph an Issue: In Defending Malpractice Suit, His Ex-Lawyers May Say They Think He Flunked It”

John McDonald reports for the Orange County [California] Register on the $10,000,000 lawsuit brought by a man who spent 19 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of murder. Excerpt:

The two Orange County public defenders who represented DeWayne McKinney on murder charges say they kept secret for 20 years their belief that he flunked a lie-detector test.

A federal judge ruled Monday that they can testify about the polygraph at a civil trial in order to counter McKinney’s assertion that the county’s legal malpractice led to his wrongful incarceration for 19 years.

The lawyers representing McKinney in his lawsuit against the county dispute the charge that he flunked the lie-detector test, saying their expert found the results inconclusive.

McKinney was convicted in 1982 of the murder of a Burger King manager in Orange, but he was released in January 2000 after a convicted robber incriminated another man in the slaying and some eyewitnesses said they now believe the other man was the killer.

Norman Watkins, lawyer for the county, argued in court that the lie-detector test is crucial for the public defenders’ case. Watkins said that in 1998, Holmes believed the polygraph was a critical obstacle to McKinney ever being freed from prison.

Holmes obtained a promise from Strople to keep the polygraph results secret so that a new investigation could be launched with the goal to free McKinney, Watkins said. Holmes has declined to comment because the suit is pending.

Taylor said he is uncertain whether he will allow the jury to see the actual polygraph results, but that Holmes and Strople may need to tell the jury of its existence and their belief that he flunked the test in order to defend themselves.

No competent attorney should place any reliance whatsoever on the pseudoscience of polygraphy, and any who does should be held liable for any resultant harm.

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