“Polygraph Tests Inadmissible”

Detroit Free Press staff writer Nate Trela reports. Excerpt:

Polygraph evidence indicating that former Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga and two codefendants did not swap campaign contributions for prosecutorial favors will not be seen by a grand jury, nor will it be admissible if the case goes to trial.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said in a written ruling Tuesday that she cannot order the U.S. Attorney’s Office to present the evidence to the grand jury.

She added that the results of polygraph examinations taken by Marlinga, state Sen. Jim Barcia, D-Bay City, and Warren real estate broker Ralph Roberts could not be considered in a trial because the government did not participate in the administration of the tests, let alone know about them.

“Contrary to defendants’ assertion, not all would agree that polygraph results favorable to them are clear, substantial evidence of innocence,” she wrote in the 8-page ruling. “In fact, courts and the scientific community have yet to reach a consensus regarding whether polygraph tests are, indeed, reliable barometers of veracity, particularly when administered unilaterally, as was done here.”

David Griem, an attorney for Roberts, said: “We are disappointed, but not surprised, by the ruling.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel, Marlinga’s attorney Mark Kriger and Barcia’s attorney Harold Gurewitz declined to comment on the ruling.

The attorneys for Marlinga, Barcia and Ralph Roberts — no relation to the judge — filed a motion last month revealing the results of privately administered polygraph exams.

The three men were indicted in April 2004 for allegedly scheming to trade contributions to Marlinga’s ill-fated 2002 congressional campaign for prosecutorial favors for two rape suspects. During their exams they denied wrongdoing.

“Marlinga Lie Detector Test Kept Private”

David Shepardson of the Detroit News reports. Excerpt:

MOUNT CLEMENS — Federal prosecutors won’t have to tell grand jurors about the results of lie detector tests taken by former Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga and two others charged in a corruption case, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Marlinga, state Sen. Jim Barcia, D-Bay City, and Warren Realtor Ralph Roberts said in March that they had passed privately administered lie detector tests given by retired Michigan police officers who were experienced with polygraph machines.

The three were charged in a nine-count indictment in April 2004, but U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts ruled that the government will have to refile new charges against the three, which likely will mean three separate trials.

The grand jury is set to consider reindicting the three April 20. The three defendants had sought to get their lie detector test results introduced in an effort to dissuade the grand jury from reindicting them. Marlinga had offered to take an FBI-administered test if the government agreed to present the results to the grand jury. They declined.

Roberts noted in her opinion that the defendants — had they failed — wouldn’t have been required to tell the government of the results and that the tests are of questionable scientific value. She also noted that the federal appeals court that oversees Michigan “disfavors the use of polygraph evidence at trial, but has not adopted a … rule prohibiting the practice.”

“Lie Detector Tests Now Part of Sex Offenders’ Conditional Parole”

Muskegon [Michigan] Chronicle staff writer John S. Hausman reports on post-conviction sex offender polygraph “testing” in Michigan. Excerpt:

In a program launched last March in Muskegon, also under way in Flint and Detroit, the Michigan Department of Corrections is requiring paroled sex offenders to submit to periodic polygraph tests as a condition of their freedom. Refusal to take the test constitutes a parole violation, which can lead to a return to prison.

By late December, 29 of the tests had been given in Muskegon, said Tom Combs, the corrections department official in charge of the program statewide. Three or four are done in a typical month, at the parole office in the former Muskegon Corrections Center building off Barney Avenue.

Polygraph tests are not infallible. That’s why the results of such tests are not admissible in court. Similarly, parolees can’t be “violated” simply because the test indicates they’re being deceptive, corrections officials say.

But officials say test answers sometimes can open avenues for further investigation, which can lead to reincarceration if parole violations are uncovered.

A typical parolee’s test takes about two hours, polygraphers said.

Each offender in the program is required to take at least three polygraph tests: first at the start of parole, then about seven months later, and finally a short time before discharge from parole.