Does a Defendant Suffer Prejudice If a Witness Refers to a Polygraph Test and the Jury Is Cautioned to Disregard Such Testimony ?
In Commonwealth v. Brinkley, 505 Pa. 442, 480 A.2d 980 (1984), a defense witness stated that the defendant's brother offered to take a polygraph test and that the police provided one for the defendant's brother.
In Commonwealth v. Miller, 497 Pa. 257, 439 A.2d 1167 (1982), the defendant argued that the Commonwealth unfairly bolstered the credibility of one of its witnesses by referencing a polygraph test.
In both cases, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not find that the defendant suffered prejudice and pointed to the following factors to support its conclusion:
(1) the witness' reference to the polygraph test was not prompted by the question;
(2) the witness' reference did not suggest the results of the polygraph;
(3) the trial court issued prompt and adequate instructions regarding the unreliability and inadmissibility of polygraph tests and cautioned the jury to disregard any testimony concerning such tests. Brinkley, 480 A.2d at 986; Miller, 439 A.2d at 1171.