U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent (pictured), who faces trial in January on criminal charges, wants the federal judge presiding over his case to admit polygraph evidence. On Oct. 30, Kent, a judge in the Southern District of Texas, filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of the Northern District of Florida to allow a polygraph examiner to present limited testimony during trial. Kent alleges in the motion that he “passed” two polygraph examinations during which he denied allegations of sexual misconduct. Kent pleaded not guilty in September to two counts of abusive sexual contact and one count of attempted aggravated sexual abuse, which stem from a complaint filed by Cathy McBroom, Kent’s former case manager in Galveston. Kent alleges the results of his polygraph examinations “failed to reveal physiological responses indicative of deception with regard to the relevant questions.” He alleges in the motion he will not seek to offer testimony of the personal opinion of the polygraph examiner but instead wants the evidence admitted to “supplement the jury’s observation and interpretation of his outward demeanor, with physiological evidence enabling the jury to observe and interpret his inward demeanor.” Kent alleges in a memorandum supporting his motion that he answered “no” to these questions:
- On August 29, 2003 did you touch Cathy McBroom’s genitals?
- On August 29, 2003 did you touch Cathy McBroom’s genitals against her will?
- On March 23, 2007 did you force Cathy McBroom’s head toward your groin?
- On March 23, 2007 did you force Cathy McBroom’s head toward your groin against her will?
- On March 23, 2007 did you touch Cathy McBroom’s genitals?
- On March 23, 2007 did you touch Cathy McBroom’s genitals against her will?
Kent alleges in the memorandum that polygraph evidence is admissible under Federal Rules of Evidence 104, 702, 403 and the 1993 U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Daubert V. Merrill Dow Pharmaceutical. He alleges the polygraph evidence is admissible, because it constitutes scientific, technical or specialized knowledge that will assist the jury; it is scientifically valid; and it will not have an “unusually prejudicial effect” on the jury, nor will it “confuse, mislead, or invade the province of the jury.” Because of a gag order Vinson imposed in the case in September, we didn't seek comment from the lawyers with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section who are prosecuting Kent. But Kent notes in his memorandum that “the government has not expressed any interest in participating” in the polygraphs. Vinson initially set Kent’s trial for early November, but he delayed it until Jan. 26 due to Hurricane Ike.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffrey