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 to use a lie detector test to further his cause.

Quick Catch-Up: Why Is Pujols Suing Clark?

So how did this defamation battle begin? As is the case with many baseball-related legal conflicts, the kernel of discontent is a doping accusation. Specifically, on his short-lived radio show, Clark insisted Pujols took performance enhancing drugs. Pujols denies the claims and decided to sue 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 used the response letter to challenge Pujols to a lie detector test. (If only “The Moment of Truth” was still on television.)

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 is not foolproof. As we learned from “Ocean’s Eleven,” anybody can train themselves to pass a polygraph — even when they are lying. Moreover, several scientific studies have concluded that lie detectors are inaccurate. The controversy surrounding polygraph tests is such that jurisdictions have the right to decide whether or not they can be brought in as evidence. Yes, each state has their own set of lie detector laws, and federal judges can use their own discretion in deciding whether or not to accept a given test. Not to mention, circumstances allowing, the defense attorney can always successfully move to have the test results excluded as evidence.

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 the plaintiff can provide superior evidence than the defendant, it is possible for a lie-telling plaintiff to win a defamation lawsuit. Oftentimes in libel and slander cases, the fate of the case lies squarely in the quality of attorneys’ arguments.

Are you in a defamation bind? Do you want or need to speak with a defamation attorney? Contact Kelly Warner Law’s fulltime defamation team today.

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