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CNN Newsstand - Tuesday, June 6, 2000

1 . "transcript of NewsStand: Ed Gelb"

Posted by LovelyPigeon on Jun-07-00 at 08:36 AM (EST)

FRAZIER: As we told you earlier, O.J. Simpson plans to use pay- per-view television as the forum to take a lie detector test about the 1994 killings of his ex-wife Nicole and Ronald Goldman.

CNN's Greta Van Susteren has more on this, and joins us tonight from Houston, Texas.

Greta, hi. What led to this?

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Stephen, I guess it's all the news about the Ramseys and other people, because the issue of O.J. Simpson and the lie detectors came up recently during a Florida case involving his former attorney F. Lee Bailey. Bailey said shortly after the killings, Simpson was taken to see a polygraph expert, but Bailey says he put a stop to it because of Simpson's emotional state. Simpson says he is -- was only hooked up to see how the machine worked and he was never asked if he killed his ex-wife. Now Simpson says he's willing to join the ranks of high-profile news makers who voluntarily take a lie detector test.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you in the past five years stolen from one of your employers?

VAN SUSTEREN (voice-over): As a person answers yes or no questions, a lie detector or polygraph charts changes in pulse rate, breathing and perspiration. Courts usually bar lie detector results from being used as evidence. Still, many high-profile defendants see the polygraph as a way to prove their innocence in the court of public opinion.

O.J. Simpson says he never took a polygraph to answer questions about his ex-wife's murder. Now Simpson says his one-time attorney F. Lee Bailey is trying to arrange for a lie detector test perhaps in a pay-per-view TV format. While such an appearance might grab ratings and headlines, polygraph results historically have mixed effects on public perception.

PATSY RAMSEY, JONBENET RAMSEY'S MOTHER: This is a big thing. I hope it will make a difference.

VAN SUSTEREN: Two weeks ago, John and Patsy Ramsey announced they had passed a lie detector test about the killing of their 6-year- old daughter, and was administered by their private investigation team. Boulder, Colorado police downplayed the results. In 1996, Richard Jewell passed a polygraph test arranged by his attorneys and administered by a former FBI agent. In it, he denied responsibility for the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta.


VAN SUSTEREN: Authorities later dropped him as a suspect after Jewell had spent months in the media spotlight.


VAN SUSTEREN: Simpson says even if he passes a lie detector test, he is sure the public won't be swayed.

I'll be taking your phone calls and e-mail questions in just a few minutes. The address is, or you can call 404-221-1855.

Right now, I'm joining from our Los Angeles bureau by forensic psychophysiologist Edward Gelb, who has administered more than 30,000 polygraph examinations.

Ed, thank you for joining us this evening.

EDWARD GELB, FORENSIC PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGIST: Thanks for having me on the show, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ed, over 30,000 since 1969, what are the odds I could deceive you?

GELB: Well, I would think I would be correct 95 percent of the time, so you might be correct 2-3 percent of the time, because there are faults positives and faults negatives.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of that 5 percent, is that what makes it -- is that why courts don't always admit polygraph exam results?

GELB: No, I don't think it has anything to do with that at all, Greta. And the reason is that we allow evidence into court such as eyewitness testimony, which is about 63 percent accurate, but we don't always allow polygraph results in, even though they may be in the 90 percentiles. I think what's working there is we don't want to take the place of the trier of fact. We don't want trial by polygraph. We want trial by judge and jury.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, Ed, I know that you can't talk about the O.J. Simpson case specifically, but that one of your associates -- at least it's in the public domain -- that O.J. Simpson went to him for a polygraph test a number of years ago and that F. Lee Bailey is saying that he attempted to stop it because of O.J. Simpson's emotional state.

Hypothetically, if someone goes in to get a polygraph examination, is a lawyer able to remotely -- from a remote location stop that polygraph examination?

GELB: Absolutely not. The examination is between the person being tested and the polygraph examiner, and the results are not known by the attorney until at least two or more charts are collected, and by that point the decision has been made, deception or no deception.

VAN SUSTEREN: So once a test is started, there's no way it can be stopped, unless a lawyer is standing right there?

GELB: That's correct. Today, you may be watching a video and watching it in real time, and you could run out of that video room and run into the polygraph suite and say, stop this, stop this. But I don't think that was happening when this examination supposedly took place.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we're going to take break.

And when we come back, we will include your phone calls and e- mails. Stay with us.


VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back.

We're talking about lie detector tests. And my guest, in Los Angeles, is polygraph expert Edward Gelb.

We have an e-mail, Ed, from Joel and it reads as follows: "What bodily responses do polygraph tests evaluate? What parameters are used to develop a scale for determining responses?"

Ed, what's the answer to that question?

GELB: Nice complex question. We're monitoring blood pressure and pulse rate, the number of times your heart beats a minute and the strength with which it beats. We are looking at changes in the rate and volume of breathing, we are looking at changes in electrical conductivity, known as galvanic skin response, and we're assigning numerical values to those parameters, and when we come to a plus 6 or above, we deem the person truthful; minus 6 or below, deception indicated.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ed, how old is the polygraph exam?

GELB: How -- I'm sorry?

VAN SUSTEREN: How old is it?

GELB: Oh, the examination goes back to the ancients that used a different type of lie detector, they would have a donkey in a tent and they would put some black on the donkey's tail, they would have somebody go in there and they would tell them if the donkey brayed, they were lying. After you pulled the tail, they would -- person would come out, they would see if there was any soot on the hand, and if not, they'd know the person was lying. That was a primitive type of lie detector, that goes back thousands of years.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, let's go to the telephones now, we have a caller on the phone from the state of Pennsylvania.

Go ahead, caller.

CALLER: Yes, Greta, what I'm wondering is after hearing that Mr. Simpson agreed that he may take or consent to a polygraph test at this time on pay per view, what is the percentage of accuracy after this many years after the crime compared to what it would have been if he would have taken the test at the time of the crime?

VAN SUSTEREN: Ed, it's been almost six years, June 12, 1994 was the murder, what about it, are the results less reliable today?

GELB: The passage of time has little if anything to do with the results of the examination. More importantly here, Mr. Simpson would have no fear of detection of deception because he's already had his matter adjudicated in criminal court and he was found to be not guilty. So even though the polygraph might indicate deception, he would have nothing to lose by taking the test.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we have another e-mail for you, Ed, this time it is from the state of Virginia, and it reads as follows: "What does an inconclusive result mean in a polygraph test? Should someone retake the test if it's inconclusive?" That's Virginia.

Ed, that's what happened in the Ramsey case, Patsy Ramsey was -- the first test results were inconclusive, then truthful. What does that mean?

GELB: What that means, Greta, is that there is no opinion, that's what the government calls an inconclusive examination. I think the best, easiest analogy for everyone to understand is taking an electrocardiogram. If the doctor does not have sufficient data, he continues running charts until he has sufficient data to come to a definite conclusion. The same thing happens with a polygraph examination.

An inconclusive or no opinion means there is insufficient data to make a determination with, and you continue running charts until you get sufficient data to make a decision with, just like an electrocardiogram.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we have a call from the state of Utah.

Go ahead, caller.

CALLER: What percentage of the time have examiners suspected lying and then later shown that lying was not taking place?


GELB: Well, that's a -- kind of an interesting question. The problem there really lies with ground truth. In other words, do we know what the answer is? In an academic setting, we can say that we're 94, 95 percent accurate. In real life, because we don't know the final answer unless a person confesses or somebody else confesses, it's very difficult to make that assessment. But I think we can stay with at least 94 percent accurate.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ed, what's the costs of these lie detector tests in general?

GELB: Well, the prices vary. Here in Los Angeles, the courts pay $975 for a polygraph examination conducted for the court.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we have an e-mail now from Vera, it reads as follows: "Do legal or illegal drugs affect the results of a lie detector test?"

GELB: Answer very simply is no, because you're making comparisons between different types of questions and no drug selectively affects a particular type of question, so the whole test may be elevated but still with differences, or it may be suppressed but still with differences. So as long as you're testable, drugs don't really affect a polygraph test, not a zone comparison test.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, a call from the state of North Carolina.

Go ahead, caller.

CALLER: Yes. My question was, we have a business and we recently had a deposit stolen out of the business. We are trying to eliminate the suspicion of employees. Are we within our rights to ask them to take a lie detector test?

VAN SUSTEREN: Ed, is that a problem that employers face? Can they go ahead and just lie -- and put a lie -- anyone on the polygraph?

GELB: Well, not anyone, Greta. But if they do it in conformance with the Employee Polygraph Protection Act they're in good shape, and what that means is that they have an identifiable economic injury to the company, number one; number two, they have reasonable suspicion to ask someone to take the test.

Access alone does not constitute reasonable suspicion. Then they give the person a 48-hour notice and, assuming the person voluntarily signs that 48-hour notice, the time starts to run. Weekends don't count for the government, and at the end of that period they can, in fact, take a polygraph examination.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we have an e-mail now for you from Barry: "Have there been recent advancements in polygraph technology? Is there any more accuracy in a newer, computerized polygraph system?"

GELB: I would say yes, Barry. The advent of the computer has come to the world of polygraph. We have more sensitive equipment. We have the mechanical function taken away so that there's automatic recentering and there's a lot that happens in a computerized polygraph that's beneficial.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ed, in the 20 seconds we have left, do you expect more and more courts to allow polygraphs to be used in cases?

GELB: I think, Greta, when there is standardization and we find that the level of competence amongst all polygraph examiners rises to the level expected in a Dowbere (ph) hearing, then there may be more admissibility. Until then, we have to work on standardization.

VAN SUSTEREN: And when you talk about Dowbere, that's a Supreme Court case which may have changed things for polygraph.

But that's all the time we have for tonight. Thanks to my guest, polygraph expert Edward Gelb. And tomorrow on "BURDEN OF PROOF," an update on the trial of two Libyan suspects in the Pan American bombing. That's at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.

I'm Greta Van Susteren. Now back to Stephen in Atlanta.

FRAZIER: Greta, Mr. Gelb, thank you both.