Is Evidence of Negative Polygraph Test Results Admissible Even for a Limited Purpose ?

In People v. Jackson, 202 Ill. 2d 361, 368, 781 N.E.2d 278, 269 Ill. Dec. 481 (2002), the supreme court held that the trial court erred in allowing the admission of evidence of negative polygraph test results. Jackson, 202 Ill. 2d at 373. In Jackson, the defendant and his codefendant were charged with first degree murder and attempted armed robbery. The codefendant denied being involved in the crimes but after being confronted with the negative results of his polygraph test, he confessed and pleaded guilty. At the defendant's bench trial, the codefendant denied making any deals with the State in exchange for his testimony and then contradicted his prior inculpatory statement. The State then asked the codefendant whether he had taken a polygraph test and was told by the examiner that he was a "liar" prior to confessing. Defense counsel objected, and the State responded that it was eliciting the evidence to show "course of conduct" leading to the codefendant's prior inculpatory statement. The trial court admitted the evidence, noting it would consider it "for a limited purpose." Jackson, 202 Ill. 2d at 365. The codefendant, in response to further questions from the State, testified that after he was confronted with the negative results of his polygraph test, he admitted his involvement in the crime and implicated the defendant. The supreme court noted that the trial judge did not define the limited purpose but it concluded from its review of the record that the trial court was considering the evidence as part of the course of conduct leading to the codefendant's confession. Jackson, 202 Ill. 2d at 369-70. The supreme court found that there was no proper legal purpose at the time the evidence was admitted, and, therefore, it could not presume that the evidence was considered for a proper limited purpose. Jackson, 202 Ill. 2d at 371.