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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 93496 Find in a Library
Title: Hypnotism - Its Utilization in Criminal Law
Journal: New York State Bar Journal  Volume:54  Issue:6  Dated:(October 1982)  Pages:377-386
Author(s): B Altman; G MacLeod
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Although the field of criminal law has used hypnotism as a tool for years, the admission of evidence acquired from hypnotized subjects -- when used at all -- requires the use of safeguards.
Abstract: Court practices regarding hypnosis are inconsistent. Some jurisdictions permit the examining expert to discuss the results of a hypnotic session but not the session's actual events. Other jurisdictions permit disclosure of the subject's responses along with the expert analysis. A court will seldom allow an expert to support his testimony with a videotape. The testimony of a witness whose memory was enhanced by a pretrial session of hypnosis is generally admissible. However, a major stumbling block to the use of hypnosis is that not only can a reluctant witness wilfully lie under hypnosis, but also a cooperative subject may remember a distorted view of events. One of the expert's tasks is to sort out recall based on sincere statements from recall based on pseudomemory, in which the subject 'remembers' things that have been suggested, hinted at, or desired. The courts reject confessions induced by hypnosis, statements made under hypnosis when offered by the subject on his behalf, and opinions as to mental state based on hypnotic examination. Justice Burke's nine safeguards present a tough standard by which the process of hypnosis would definitely be more reliable and acceptable to the judiciary as an effective tool in a criminal trial. The safeguards propose strict requirements for the hypnotist, the session itself, and the admissibility of the information gleaned during the sesion. Stringent standards are also necessary as to the admission of post-hypnotic statements. A total of 26 notes accompany the text.
Index Term(s): Confessions; Interview and interrogation; Questioning under hypnosis; Rules of evidence
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