"I will not take a lie detector test,"
Published in The Herald-News, Passaic, N.J., September 1975
Note (February 2000): In this August 1975 interview
Jim Lanaras and I ask Rubin Carter to take a lie detector test
and Carter vehemently and steadfastly refuses. I went into this
interview leaning in Carter's favor, but his refusal to take
the lie test was troubling and raised the first real doubts in
my mind about his innocence. -- Cal Deal
In this recent interview conducted by Herald-News reporter
Jim Lanaras, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter talks about a
lie detector test he took hours after a 1966 triple murder at
the Lafayette Grill in Paterson.
Carter was convicted of those murders in 1967 and is now seeking
a new trial.
The interview took place in Trenton State Prison Aug. 28.
At that time, sources had reported that the results of Carter's
lie detector test were questionable.
Since then, however, authoritative sources have disclosed
that Carter failed the lie detector test. The man who gave Carter
the test, John McGuire, an Elizabeth police officer, concluded
that Carter "was involved in the crime," the sources
Q. You both passed a lie detector test in Paterson that morning?
A. Yes. [See Carter's lie test report.
Q. Now would you be willing to take another lie detector test.
A. No. No, of course not. There's no reason to take another
lie detector test. We have already taken a lie detector test.
Take the information from that test which is closer (to the time
of) that crime.
Q. Well, I heard that the outcome of the test was questionable
as to whether you actually did pass?
A. Oh sure, they say that nine years later now, but they turned
us loose because this man (McGuire) laid these drafts out on
the table and explained to Capt. John Goursley and all the rest
of the police that this is why these two men could not have murdered
Q. Well if you passed a lie detector test then, then undoubtedly
you would pass one now. It certainly would help your case a great
A. Would help? You got all this other evidence.
Q. We're talking about in the court of public opinion.
A. Yes, yes, but we're talking about something else here. We
are talking about a fair trail.
Q. Taking another lie detector test and passing it would put
an awful lot of pressure on the people in office to give you
a new trial.
A. Why would it put a lot pressure on them? Why do you think....
Q. Because of public opinion. You don't think that it would
be significant that you passed a lie detector test?
A. No, no absolutely not. You have the lie detector test that
I passed. Take that. That is in the police hands.
Q. But if you can't get to that ... if this thing is being
suppressed, destroyed, whatever it may be, why not take another
test? Why not do it again?
A. Why not look at the evidence?
Q. Why don't you do it again and say to the world, "Here
is the proof"?
A. Because I don't think that you, what I think you doin' here
is tryin' to, tryin' to uh, what you tryin' to do is solve the
Q. I think what we're trying to say is it would help establish
A. It would not establish anything.
Q. At a point now when, as you say, people are lining up in
your corner, it would certainly buttress your case.
A. Well, you see, people are not lining up in my corner because
of innocence or guilt.
Q. They think you were framed.
A. Yes. Yes, that's what they're lining up in the corner about,
that a man is in jail and he did not receive a fair trial. Bello
and Bradley were the only two people that says John Artis and
I had anything to do with this crime. In 1966 you willingly,
readily took their testimony as being valid. Today Bello and
Bradley say Rubin Carter and John Artis did not do that, that
they lied. If their testimony ought to be enough to get Rubin
Carter and John Artis out of jail.
But at any rate, you mention a lie detector test. They brought
this, Mr. McGuire. And he came up here to Paterson Police Headquarters,
he set his machines up and he told me that if he found anything
in this thing here that is indicative of my guilt, that he would
help put my black ass underneath the electric chair.
I will not take another lie detector test. I refuse to do
it by the same token that I refuse to wear prison clothes, as
I refuse to be treated as a criminal. I refuse to take a lie
detector test now under any circumstances, from anybody and for
any reason because you have evidence right here that you can
(At this point Carter is informed that The Herald-News
would be willing to arrange and finance another lie detector
CARTER: Yeah, well if The Herald-News wants to take a lie
detector test they can take a lie detector test all they want
to, but they will not bring no lie detector down here for Rubin
Carter to take.
Q. You would refuse to take a lie detector test if one of
A. From anybody, from anybody. If you tell me that you would
give me that lie detector test and if I passed that lie detector
test and if I passed that lie detector test I would walk out
that door, I'll take it.
Q. The only thing we can guarantee is that if you agree to
take a lie detector test the results of that test, good, bad
or indifferent, would be in the paper. It would be there, as
you say, in the court of public opinion.
A. (laughs) You feel that way see, but, uh, I don't feel that
and therefore I will not take it for any reason, for anybody,
for any circumstances.
Q. You know, we're talking about something that, you know,
it's dramatic. People would say, "Look at that!".
A. I understand exactly what you say. I have went through these
mental gyrations before in terms of lie detector tests. I had
thought about that many times.
Q. The purpose of something like this would be to pressure
A. Yes, I understand. Listen, I understand exactly what you saying,
but again, that's my decision to make.
Q. What if we gave a lie detector test to Bello or Bradley
and they passed?
A. That's what I been trying to do, being that I took one, I
said, okay, I took a lie detector test, now give Bello and Bradley
a lie detector test, that's all. And they said no we won't do
Q. What has become of the original test?
A. How would I know. I had no control over these things. As far
as I know it exists.
Q. Well, what would you say if Bello and Bradley took a lie
detector test and they passed and you refused to take a lie detector
test? Wouldn't that look awful bad?
A. If they took a test and passed it, I would take a test. I
would do that. If they took a test and they passed it from an
objective observer I would take a test.
Q. What would you call an objective observer?
A. Nobody from New Jersey. No law enforcements from New Jersey.
No law enforcements period.
Q. That's the only stipulation?
A. That's the only way.[RELATED STORY
-- Carter got just such a "no-lose" offer: Pass
a lie test and go free (He rejected the deal.) See Prosecutor's
letter. Eyewitness Al Bello took two lie tests and was found
to be telling the truth regarding his identification of Carter
as one of the killers. Both examiners were from outside of New
Jersey. Eyewitness Dexter Bradley, who also identified Carter
as one of the killers, refused to take a lie test before the
second trial and was not called to testify.]
Q. We have contacted two people. If we were to get
a person who...
A. (angry) Let me put this to rest. Let me put this rest. I will
not take a lie detector test under any circumstances. Let me
put that to rest.
Q. Are you retracting what you said before about....?
A. What I don't want you to do is to try and do my thinkin for
me. I do not need that. We have enough evidence here. Let's deal
with this. What you looking at here is for your own personal
edification, that this guy is not guilty. That is not the issue
Q. The issue is not whether you're guilty or innocent, it's
whether you got a fair trial?
A. That's right. And, that is the only issue we're dealing with
here. When I say I am innocent, it has no bearing on people.
And the only thing that will have a bearing on people is a verdict
of not guilty by a jury.
Q. Once the issue as to whether or not you got a fair trial
is decided, and if they do decide to have another trial, that
will settle that argument. Then the issue will be again, when
you're in the court, are you guilty or innocent and, at that
point, would not a lie detector test be to your advantage?
A. At that point, one the issue is decided that Rubin Carter
and John Artis did not get a fair trial and a retrial is mandated,
at that point it would be intelligent.
Q. If the judge rules in favor of a retrial, would you then
at that point agree to a lie detector test?
A. Well, let's take that when it comes. At that point a lie detector
test would certainly be valid. I would take a lie detector test
at that point if the judge say, "You are entitled to a new
trial and, if you take a lie detector test and that test proves
favorable, then you don't have to go to court, I'll take it.
Q. I don't foresee him saying that.
A. No, I don't foresee him saying that either, but it is at that
point in which a lie detector test would become valid. What we're
talking about is the law of the land. The constitutional law,
the state law. That's what I want. And that's what is violated.
And that's what we're talking about here.