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The Closing of the Coffin on Forensic Polygraph Evidence for Australia

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Polygraphy has a chequered and colourful history. In New South Wales its use in criminal investigations was outlawed by the Lie Detectors Act 1983 (NSW) after an attempt to introduce such evidence in a District Court proceeding. Decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada have rejected such evidence. However, two events in 2003 will prove of more long-term significance. An in-depth National Research Council Report classified those studies which suggested that it is reliable as seriously flawed and recommended extensive independent research before its use should be sanctioned, even in employment contexts. In late 2003 the Western Australian Court of Appeal heard extensive evidence from international leaders in the debates about the status of contemporary polyg- raphy. In an extensive decision, Mallard v The Queen [2003] WASCA 296 the court robustly ruled against the admissibility of polygraphy. This is likely to close the lid on arguments for the foreseeable future about the use of the technique in Australian courts.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Barrister, Melbourne, Australia; Adjunct Professor, Law School, La Trobe University; Adjunct Professor, Law Faculty, Monash University

Publication date: 01 December 2004

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