September 25, 2010

State Supreme Court says former Lewis County convict can’t be forced to take lie detector about his sexual past

9-25-2010 Washington:

The Washington State Supreme Court yesterday issued a ruling (and dissent) saying a Lewis County judge’s order to make a man undergo a polygraph examination about his sexual history is invalid.

Jake Hawkins is the subject of an attempt by the state to label him a sexually violent predator so the state can commit him to civil detention following his sentence for a sex crime.

Hawkins was convicted in 1993 of attempted rape.

In 2006, after the trial court found probable cause to believe Hawkins was a sexually violent predator but before a jury had been asked to determine the issue beyond a reasonable doubt, he was taken into custody for an evaluation, according to the ruling.

Then-Lewis County Superior Court Judge H. John Hall ordered the polygraph. Hawkins refused and appealed the order.

Hawkins remains locked up at the McNeil Island Special Commitment Center where he has been waiting the involuntary commitment trial, according to Jodi Backlund, one of the two Olympia attorneys who took the question to the Supreme Court.

The Community Protection Act of 1990 allows the state to civilly commit some sex offenders after they have completed their criminal sentences. They remain there until a court determines they are ready to be released to a less restrictive living arrangement.

In yesterday’s decision, the justices noted the difficulties of polygraph examinations, which courts have consistently recognized as unreliable and are inadmissible unless stipulated to by all parties, they wrote.

In addition, they are invasive of one’s private affairs, and this inquiry is into one of the most private affairs of a person, the court noted.

Six of the nine Supreme Court justices agreed on yesterday’s ruling.

The majority author, Justice Susan Owens, wrote the law does not prohibit the use by an evaluator of voluntary or previously existing polygraph examinations, and even without one, an expert is still capable of reaching an opinion as to whether an individual is a sexually violent predator.

Backlund said yesterday’s decision doesn’t mean Hawkins gets to go free.

The decision vacates the order compelling Hawkins to under the polygraph and the commitment trial in Lewis County Superior Court can go forward. ..Source.. Sharyn L. Decker, Lewis County Sirens news reporter

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Six of the nine Supreme Court justices agreed on yesterday’s ruling."

Only 6 of 9 agreed that polygraphs are unreliable? What the &^$%#%*^% were the other three judges thinking? And we wonder why our justice system is so screwed up!