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Hypnotically Enhanced Testimony: Has It Lost Its Charm?

NCJ Number
Southern Illinois University Law Journal Volume: 15 Dated: (Winter 1991) Pages: 289-320
B A Clemens
Date Published
32 pages
Noting that the courts need to recognize the benefits of hypnosis and work to prevent the dangers, this comment discusses the use of hypnosis in law enforcement, reviews the four schools of thought evident in the State courts, considers both the recent decision of the Illinois Supreme Court on the issue and the outlook of the U.S. Supreme Court, analyzes the differing views in the State courts, and proposes suggestions for possible reform of the current law.
All of the approaches to hypnotically enhanced testimony advocate, to some extent, a position inconsistent with the general trend in evidence that every individual is competent to be a witness. The legal community holds hypnosis to its own interpretation of the standard established in Frye when the court excluded the results of systolic blood pressure deception testing. Hypnosis passes in some states and fails in others. There is no question that hypnosis when used properly has significant utility in the judicial setting. Construction of the Frye test to require scientific accuracy, in place of refreshed recollection, defeats the utility of such evidence. The courts need to take an individual-inquiry approach to the admission of hypnotically enhanced testimony. 206 footnotes