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Court refuses to allow civil action for violation of lie-detector statute

Lie-detector results do not reliabily identify the truth and for that reason they are not admissible in court proceedings.  Nevertheless, they are apparently still useful in some criminal investigations, because they induce confessions or other incriminating actions.  To control their use, a statute expressly requires that the results of a polygraph may not be disseminated in public.  A woman named Amy Lynch became embroiled in a controversy when she claimed that John Curcio assaulted her at a public meeting.  Eventually, she was invited to take a lie detector test and didn't pass it:  the Prosecutor or police disclosed this result to Curcio who then disseminated the information in a public attack on Lynch.  Lynch sued each of the people involved in disseminating the information for violating the express injunction against publication that is contained in the statute. Her claim was dismissed by two of the three Court of Appeals judges who heard the claim on appeal.  The third wrote an excellent dissent from the majority opinion, noting that the language of the pertinent statute made it a crime to publish this information and expressly allowed victims to taken reasonable steps to achieve justice.  He pointed out that the majority attempted to interpret the case in a way that left left Lynch damned if she did and damned if she didn't.  The majority first ruled that Lynch had no common law remedy, but then held that she had no implied statutory remedy because of existing common law rights.  The dissenting judge would rule that in this particular situation, since disseminating the lie-detector result is not spreading a "falsehood" [rather it is spreading a conclusion known to be unreliable and unscientific] other common law remedies are not adequate and the statute making dissemination a crime should also allow the victim recourse.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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