Principal releases polygraph results Report labels Emory 'truthful'

November 11, 1992|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff Writer

In an aggressive bid to ward off a grand jury indictment on drug kingpin charges, the principal of Severna Park Elementary School released yesterday the results of a polygraph test that she said proves her innocence.

"I've been telling people that I requested this test, since my innocence seems to be in question," said Patricia A. Emory in an interview at her home in Pasadena. "I think it will confirm that I am innocent."

Frank Weathersbee, Anne Arundel County state's attorney, would not discuss specifics of Mrs. Emory's case. He added, however, that polygraph tests "are a good investigative tool but do not prove a person's guilt or innocence."

The results of such tests cannot be admitted as evidence in a trial.

Mrs. Emory, 45, was arrested Oct. 29 with nine others in the county's largest marijuana bust.

Since then, she and her lawyer, E. Thomas Maxwell, have coordinated an effort to sway public sentiment by granting newspaper and television interviews and volunteering to appear before the grand jury.

They also plan to present the results of the polygraph test to the grand jury when it considers charges against her Monday.

"If I can possibly nip this thing in the bud, that's what I want to do," Mr. Maxwell said. "But if I have to try the case, I will. And I'll win."

Mr. Weathersbee said he has not decided whether to allow Mrs. Emory, who has been placed on leave by the county school system, to appear before the panel, or whether to submit the test results.

The four-hour test was administered Sunday in Mr. Maxwell's office by the former commander of the Maryland State Police polygraph unit. Mr. Maxwell was not present, Mrs. Emory said.

In a two-page report, the examiner concluded that Mrs. Emory was "being truthful when answering all relevant questions" about her alleged involvement in the ring, which police said had ties to several states and Mexico.

Police, meanwhile, say they have evidence linking Mrs. Emory to the alleged drug ring.

"There is no doubt in my mind she knew what was going on," Detective Michael Chandler, the chief investigator on the case, has said. "I don't charge people unless I think I can convict them. It would be a waste of everyone's time."

During the raid at the Emory home, police seized $12,000 cash and "drug records" from a briefcase allegedly belonging to Mrs. Emory's husband, James Mitchell Emory, who was also charged as a kingpin. They said they have found marijuana stems and half-smoked marijuana joints in the Emorys' trash and have surveillance reports stating that known drug dealers frequently visited the house.

They point to the conviction of Mrs. Emory's brother, Michael J. Hubbard, on drug distribution charges as further evidence of the

family's involvement. Mr. Hubbard, 36, who had pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in a separate case, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison on Monday.

Mr. Maxwell said Hubbard's charges have nothing to do with the Emory case.

While both sides wrestle over the charges, legal experts are split over the value of polygraph tests.

"In 96 percent of the jurisdictions, they are not admissible as evidence because they're not considered reliable enough," said Abraham A. Dash, law professor at the University of Maryland's School of Law. "So much depends on the machine and the operator."

Mr. Dash said "the good PR effect" is the biggest advantage of submitting to a polygraph. "It shows the person is not afraid to take one, and if they come through with flying colors, they can say, 'Look, I'm innocent.' But it really doesn't mean a darn thing."

But William H. "Billy" Murphy, a prominent defense attorney, disagreed.

"After years of being discredited, polygraphs have finally come into their own," he said. "The standards have been raised to much higher levels."

Mr. Murphy said a qualified polygrapher can produce objective results, which can be confirmed by other examiners.

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