The polygraph is an issue that has been at the center of a great deal of controversy in Michigan. The polygraph, also known as the “lie detector test,” is a way for law enforcement to gauge whether or not a criminal defendant is telling the truth. The test has been compelling in rape (CSC) cases, and the Michigan Legislature has taken notice with a statute giving the defendant a statutory right to take the test. MCL 776.21 (5) allows a criminal defendant to have a statutory right to have a polygraph when charged with a CSC. What many fail to realize is that MCL 776.21 (2) explains that a law enforcement officer cannot offer a polygraph to the alleged victim. We are faced with the question of whether our legislature is looking to preserve the rights of the defendant or if they seek to extend confessions in prosecutions. To discuss this matter more, we turned to several of the top lawyers in the state of Michigan for insight into the issue.
Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and one of the state’s top business attorneys. While the polygraph is a concept born in the criminal law sector, McManus has become a pioneer in advocating for the polygraph in other fields. McManus stated, “The point of the polygraph is to get to the truth of the matter. In any form of litigation, we are supposed to be telling a story based upon the truth. We find in business settings; this can be helpful. Still, in heated discussions, we need to remember that criminal prosecution can arise at any time, so you need a strong private test to proceed as the risk is lessened.”
Jennifer Kelley is a Senior Associate for McManus and Amadeo. She is known as one of the top divorce lawyers across Michigan. Kelley provided commentary when she said, “We have utilized polygraphs in divorce matters of late. An interesting way to gauge the truth is to see if both parties are willing to engage in a polygraph. When one party is, and the other is not, that can tip the scales, but like Matt (McManus) stated, we need to gauge criminal consequences before enlisting the test. Bill (Amadeo) has always been a big proponent of the polygraph in that area.”