State v. Staat, 91-119

Citation248 Mont. 291,811 P.2d 1261,48 St.Rep. 331
Decision Date04 April 1991
Docket NumberNo. 91-119,91-119
PartiesSTATE of Montana, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Leo F. STAAT, Defendant and Applicant.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Montana

A petition for a writ of supervisory control in this matter was filed after defendant Leo F. Staat's appeal bond was revoked based upon the results of a court-ordered polygraph examination and he was ordered to begin serving a jail sentence. On March 27, 1991, this Court exercised its power of supervisory control and ordered that Staat be released from custody and that his bond pending appeal be reinstated. That order further provided that the Court would later issue an order articulating its reasoning concerning Sec. 37-62-302, MCA, and polygraph examination results in court proceedings.

This Court recognizes that, as the State points out, some courts have allowed polygraph evidence in criminal proceedings in limited circumstances, such as by stipulation of the parties. See, e.g., United States v. Oliver (8th Cir.1975) 525 F.2d 731. However, this Court "has long abhorred the use of lie detector evidence." State v. McPherson (1989), 236 Mont. 484, 491, 771 P.2d 120, 124. We consistently have held such evidence inadmissible in criminal trials. State v. Hollywood (1960), 138 Mont. 561, 358 P.2d 437; State v. Bashor (1980), 188 Mont. 397, 614 P.2d 470, and cases cited therein. We have also held such evidence inadmissible in a probation revocation proceeding, because "[w]e do not believe these tests to be sufficiently trustworthy that one could be jailed or imprisoned solely as the result of a polygraph examination." State v. Fogarty (1980), 187 Mont. 393, 417, 610 P.2d 140, 154. (In State v. Burke (1988), 235 Mont. 165, 766 P.2d 254, Fogarty was overruled on another issue.) In the thirty-two cases since 1960 in which this Court has mentioned or discussed polygraph examinations, the results thereof have never been specifically approved for introduction into evidence over objection.

This Court has on one occasion declined to reverse a criminal conviction where polygraph evidence was included in a presentence report. McPherson, 771 P.2d 120. In that case, the defendant had submitted the polygraph evidence, and this Court stated that he "invited the error and cannot now complain that it was in the record." McPherson, 771 P.2d at 125.

The Montana legislature has prohibited polygraph examination results from being introduced in evidence. This is the public policy of Montana with which we agree. Section 37-62-302, MCA, enacted in 1983, provides:

Results of a polygraph examination or other test given by an examiner may not be introduced or admitted as evidence in a court of law.

The mandatory language of prohibition in the above statute rules out admission of polygraph evidence by stipulation of the parties.

In light of the lack of trustworthiness of the results of polygraph tests, we conclude that application of the above statute should not be limited to those court proceedings in which the rules of evidence govern, but should extend to every proceeding in Montana courts of law. This is...

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13 cases
  • State v. Walker, DA 17-0045
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • December 19, 2018
    ..., 2008 MT 241, ¶ 20, 344 Mont. 461, 188 P.3d 1052 ; State v. Anderson , 1999 MT 58, ¶ 12, 293 Mont. 472, 977 P.2d 315 ; State v. Staat , 248 Mont. 291, 293, 811 P.2d 1261, 1262 (1991).394 Mont. 10¶ 14 Walker opposed the State’s motion but did not mention Stotts’s testimony or the precedent ......
  • State v. Porter, 15363
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • June 24, 1997
    ...cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1141, 106 S.Ct. 2248, 90 L.Ed.2d 694 (1986); State v. Biddle, 599 S.W.2d 182, 191 (Mo.1980); State v. Staat, 248 Mont. 291, 292, 811 P.2d 1261 (1991); State v. Steinmark, 195 Neb. 545, 548, 239 N.W.2d 495 (1976); Petition of Grimm, 138 N.H. 42, 54-55, 635 A.2d 456 (19......
  • Lee v. Martinez, 27,915.
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • July 14, 2004
    ...379 N.W.2d 70 (Minn.1985); Weatherspoon v. State, 732 So.2d 158 (Miss. 1999); State v. Hall, 955 S.W.2d [198] (Mo. 1997); State v. Staat, [248 Mont. 291] 811 P.2d 1261 (Mont.1991); State v. Steinmark, [195 Neb. 545] 239 N.W.2d 495 (Neb.1976); State v. Ober, [126 N.H. 471] 493 A.2d 493 (N.H.......
  • State v. DuBray, 00-102.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • September 23, 2003
    ...¶ 105 The District Court properly noted that polygraph evidence is inadmissible in Montana court proceedings. See State v. Staat (1991), 248 Mont. 291, 811 P.2d 1261. The District Court found that the information requested was therefore irrelevant and denied DuBray's motion. Since polygraph......
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