State v. Mower

Decision Date04 February 1974
Citation314 A.2d 840
PartiesSTATE of Maine v. Robert MOWER.
CourtMaine Supreme Court


POMEROY, Justice.

This appeal is the vehicle by which we are again asked to review the position which we have previously taken 1 concerning the admissibility of the results of lie detector tests or evidence that a witness or a defendant was willing or unwilling to submit to such test.

This appellant was convicted of the crime of breaking and entering with intent to commit larceny, after trial by a jury in Kennebec County. The appellant was thereafter sentenced to serve a term of not less than 1 1/2 nor more than 3 years in the Maine State Prison.

This appeal was then taken appropriately as to time and form.

In his brief and at oral argument the appellant urges us to decide the appeal by agreeing with his contention that:

'It was error for the trial Justice toi refuse to grant defendant's motion to obtain a polygraph test, and it was prejudicial error to deny defense counsel the opportunity to obtain testimony from the defendant as to his willingness to take a polygraph test.'

A second point briefed by appellant, respecting imposition of sentence, was formally waived in oral argument.

The record reveals that prior to the commencement of the trial before the jury the appellant moved that the Court 'order a polygraph test be taken.'

At that time the appellant indicated a willingness 'to sign a stipulation before the taking of the test, that the results of the test may go into evidence whether he passes or fails.'

The Court refused to order the polygraph be administered and refused to allow any evidence to be received that the appellant had stated a willingness to submit to such polygraph test.

This the appellant argues constituted reversible error.

We disagree.

In Mottram, supra (footnote 1), it was made abundantly clear that the result of a lie detector test was not to be received in evidence in any case because polygraph lie detectors just had not been developed to the point where the result of the test could be considered competent evidence of anything.

The Court was satisfied after citing and reviewing a large number of cases and material of interest on the lie detector that polygraph tests are 'valuable tools in the investigation of crime, for example, in developing leads.' Such tests have not 'reached the stage of scientific development and...

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16 cases
  • State v. Ledger
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • April 26, 1982
    ...of truthfulness, see State v. Trafton, Me., 425 A.2d 1320, 1322 (1981); State v. Bowden, Me., 342 A.2d 281, 285 (1975); State v. Mower, Me., 314 A.2d 840, 841 (1974), and with the dangerous possibility that credibility will thence be evaluated by the device rather than by the trier of fact,......
  • Poole v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • January 7, 1983
    ...128 So.2d 368, 370-73 (1961).For cases holding that a reference to willingness to take a test is inadmissible, see, e.g., State v. Mower, 314 A.2d 840, 841 (Me.1974); Commonwealth v. Saunders, 386 Pa. 149, 156-57, 125 A.2d 442, 445-46 (1956); State v. Rowe, 77 Wash.2d 955, 958, 468 P.2d 100......
  • People v. Muniz
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals
    • February 21, 2008
    ...Penn v. Commonwealth, 417 S.W.2d 258, 258 (Ky. 1967) (evidence of the defendant's willingness to take test inadmissible); State v. Mower, 314 A.2d 840, 841 (Me.1974) (evidence of the defendant's willingness to take test inadmissible); Kosmas v. State, 316 Md. 587, 560 A.2d 1137, 1140 (1989)......
  • Sturzenegger v. Father Flanagan's Boys Home
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • August 8, 2008
    ...1014 (R.I.1988); State v. Britson, 130 Ariz. 380, 636 P.2d 628 (1981); Moore v. State, 267 Ind. 270, 369 N.E.2d 628 (1977); State v. Mower, 314 A.2d 840 (Me. 1974); Penn v. Com., 417 S.W.2d 258 (Ky. 1967); State v. Perry, 274 Minn. 1, 142 N.W.2d 573 (1966); People v. Carter, 48 Cal.2d 737, ......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Sexual assaults against children
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Defending Specific Crimes
    • April 29, 2020
    ...of polygraph testing into evidence. In State v. Mower , the Court had concerns about the scientific development of the polygraph. 314 A. 2d 840 (Me. 1974). In State v. Jones , the Law Court did not permit defense counsel to argue that defendant’s willingness to take a lie detector test indi......

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