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The post below was published on Thursday, January 27th, 2011 at 9:15 AM.

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Fourth District: One Little Word

Polygraph is “one little word,” and its mention by one of the state’s witnesses in a criminal trial did not require the trial court to declare a mistrial. So held the Fourth District in this case.

The defendant was charged with murder. She claimed that the actual killer was an acquaintance named Dutch, and though the defendant wanted to introduce evidence that Dutch had failed a polygraph examination, the trial court excluded it. The state called Dutch as a witness, and when he was asked on cross-examination about his visit to the state attorney’s office, he stated, “Yeah, I came to do a polygraph.” The defendant argued that the statement implied Dutch had passed the polygraph exam. The trial court gave a curative instruction and denied the defendant’s mistrial motion. The jury found the defendant guilty, and she appealed. The district court affirmed, focusing on other evidence in the case and the fact Dutch said only that he went to take a polygraph–not that he did take one or what the results were.

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