Legal Status of Voicestress



Northern District of NY Chief Judge Norman A. Mordue ruled that sex offenders can be required to submit to computerised Voicestress* examinations as part of their post-release supervision to determine if they Truthful or Lying about their post-release conduct, and FURTHER, that the technique is equivalent to polygraph examinations, which have been accepted by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as a way to monitor the activities of those under post-release supervision.

The 2nd Circuit in United States v. Johnson, 446 F.2d 272 (2006), held that polygraphs were not unreliable, that they could be validly related to the post-release supervision of an offender and that they did not deprive a defendant of his rights under the Fifth Amendment. The same qualities apply to Voicestress* systems, Judge Mordue determined.

Judge Mordue, ruling from Syracuse, N.Y., in Gjurovich v. United States, 5:01-cr-215, conceded that federal authorities have acknowledged there have been questions in the past regarding whether Voicestress* should be legally supported.

However, as noted by the 2nd Circuit in Johnson, when confronted with the same arguments about polygraph testing, the reliability of the technology and its admissibility as evidence “does not bear much on the therapeutic value of the tool,’” Judge Mordue wrote. “Petitioner argues that the use of the Voicestress is not reasonably related to the purposes of sentencing. The Court disagrees based on ‘the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant.’”

Advocates of Voicestress* technology say the devices can detect otherwise inaudible voice inflections (Lippold Microtremors) in response to questions,which indicate whether a speaker is being truthful or not.

Testimony before Judge Mordue indicated that some 1,800 law enforcement agencies in the United States are using microtremor based voicestress technology.

Judge Mordue declined to revoke the terms of Ethan J. Gjurovich’s supervised release from federal prison that the U.S. Probation Office sought following Gjurovich’s completion of a five year, 10-month sentence for transporting child pornography and possessing child pornography in 2007.

The term also included a three-year period of supervised release. The supervision period had required that Gjurovich submit to regular polygraph exams about his activities in the community. In August 2008, the Probation Office of the Northern District of New York sought to modify the terms of his supervision to add the requirement that he also submit to Voicestress examinations if asked.

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