Defamation Law: Can Lie Detector Tests Be Used By Defense?

rendering of a lie detector machine
Can lie detector tests be used as evidence in defamation lawsuits?

Last week, we blogged about a doping-related defamation lawsuit waged by former MLB player Albert Pujols. Welp gang, it looks like Jack Clark, the defendant in the case, is fighting back. And he is hoping a lie detector test will further his cause.

Quick Catch-Up: Why Is Pujols Suing Clark?

So how did this sports defamation battle begin? As is the case with many baseball-related legal battles, the kernel of discontent is a doping accusation. On his radio show, Clark insisted Pujols took performance enhancing drugs. Pujols denied the claims and sued Clark for defamation.

Clark’s Response To Pujols Defamation Lawsuit

Instead of lying low, Clark hit back with a response letter. In it, he stood by his statements, squabbling over the use of the term “juiced” and whether or not it absolutely conveyed, “illicit drug use.” Semantics aside, the former St. Louis Cardinal also challenged Pujols to a lie detector test. (If only “The Moment of Truth” was still on!)

If Clark Did Pass A Lie Detector Test, Is That Enough To Get Him Off The Defamation Hook?

Offering to take a lie detector test is proof positive that a person is telling the truth, right? Not so fast. While a lie detector is a good indicator, it’s not foolproof. As we learned from “Ocean’s Eleven,” anybody can train themselves to pass a polygraph — even when they’re lying.

Moreover, scientific studies have concluded that lie detectors are inaccurate. In fact, polygraphs are so controversial that some  jurisdictions don’t allow polygraph results to be submitted as evidence. Yes, each state has their own set of lie detector laws, and federal judges exercise discretion when deciding to admit a given test.

But What If Clark Is Telling The Truth? Can He Win The Case?

Truth is a clear and accepted defense against defamation. As the old saying goes, “it’s not slander if it true.”

However, if plaintiffs can provide superior evidence than defendants, it’s possible for a lie-telling plaintiff to win a defamation lawsuit.

Are you in a defamation bind? Need to speak with a defamation attorney? Contact Kelly Warner Law.

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