Police did not coerce defendant's incriminating statements by conducting fake polygraph test in response to defendant's demands for examination (Sims, Acting P.J.)

Written By: Reid
Jun 01, 2009
People v. Mays C.A. 3rd; May 8, 2009; C057099

In their opinion the court stated "It is well established, the court noted, that a confession is involuntary if it results from coercive policy activity, the issue being whether the defendant's will was overborne. Thus police deception during an interrogation does not necessarily invalidate incriminating statements. A psychological ploy is prohibited only when, in light of all the circumstances, it is so coercive that it tends to result in a statement that is both involuntary and unreliable.

Here, the deception was a mock polygraph. The use of a mock polygraph, the court of appeal concluded, was not likely to produce a false confession. Mays may have believed that polygraphs were perfectly accurate, as he testified, but that was not a belief induced by the police.

Further, the trickery was not particularly coercive because, even after he saw the fake test results, Mays continued to deny involvement in the crime. Instead, he simply admitted being present at the scene wearing particular clothes. Other evidence gave that admission weight, namely the surveillance photo and other witness testimony identifying the shooter as a male dressed as Mays admitted he was. Therefore, the court said, May's ability to admit being present, while steadfastly denying participation, demonstrated that his will was not overborne by the police ruse."
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