By: David Bloomberg Re: Australian Ban (File: AUSBAN.ZIP) From the Australian, 5/9/95 REPR
By: David Bloomberg
Re: Australian Ban
From the Australian, 5/9/95
REPRESSED-MEMORY EVIDENCE BANNED
By Scott Emerson
Lawyers and civil libertarians yesterday backed a decision by Queens-
land's Director of Prosecutions, Mr Royce Miller QC, not to proceed
with cases based on evidence obtained under the controversial
repressed-memory hypnotic technique.
In a letter to the Queensland Police Commissioner, Mr Miller says in
making his decision he considered a recent West Australian case, and
an unrelated Sydney case also involving hypnosis.
In the West Australian case a father was acquitted of molesting his
The women claimed that they had repressed the memories of sexual abuse
for decades until the use of counselling and hypnotherapy.
Mr Miller yesterday asked that police investigators be informed of his
"Until further notice I advise that I will not seek to tender evidence
of a recollection of a witness which emerged for the first time during
or after hypnosis unless the following guidelines are satisfied,"
Mr Miller wrote.
Those guidelines include that hypnotically induced evidence must be
limited to matters which the witness had recalled and related prior
to the hypnosis. The substance of the original recollection must also
be preserved in written, audio or video recorded form.
"The fact that a witness has been hypnotised will be disclosed by the
prosecution to the defence and all relevant transcripts and
information provided to the defence, well in advance of the trial,"
Mr Miller said.
Mr Miller also wrote to the respective boards of psychology and
psychiatry in the State of his decision.
The vice-president of the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties,
Mr Terry O'Gorman, said Mr Miller's decision was sensible because the
evidence obtained by the technique could not be relied upon.
"Those of us who followed the West Australian case were astounded it
ever got to trial. The WA prosecutor was rightly criticised for
bringing that case against that fellow," Mr O'Gorman said.
"It is a sensible and balanced response by the Queensland prosecutor
but in no way radical."
The President of the Queensland Bar Association, Mr Walter Sofronoff,
said he agreed with Mr Miller's decision.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank