The Brief

The Stetson Law Student Newsletter

Polygraphs: Brave Enough to Take One?

On Wednesday, January 16th at noon in Mann Lounge, Stetson Law’s Federalist Society hosted featured Brian Morris, nationally certified polygraph examiner, who discussed the evidentiary value of the polygraph examination. About 45 students attended and there were many great questions asked of Mr. Morris when the presentation was over. The presentation included a student who volunteered to be the test subject of a polygraph and the results were instantly shown on the projection screen behind Mr. Morris.

Currently the polygraph is inadmissible in every state’s courts of law, except New Mexico; rather the polygraph is used as an investigative tool. There are two cases that set out evidentiary standards for the nation and the states. The most recent is Daubert v Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals decided by the US Supreme Court in 1993, which held that Federal Rule of Evidence 702 (expert witness testimony) doesn’t incorporate the “Frye” standard of evidence as the assessment tool of scientific expert testimony but Rule 702 allowed for flexibility. So, if you’re in a Daubert state, you can put an expert in polygraph testing on the stand (like Mr. Morris) and the results of the polygraph can be disclosed to the jury if you can establish the person on the stand as an expert. Since the jury will get to hear the polygraph results the jury can decide what weight to give to the polygraph – just like the jury can decide what weight to give to any piece of evidence (photographs, eyewitness testimony) that is presented during a trial.

Some states, including Florida, do not follow the Daubert standard but rather refer to the older standard established by the DC Circuit in 1923, Frye v US. The Frye standard states that scientific evidence, which a polygraph qualifies as, must be “generally accepted” by a meaningful number of that associated scientific community. There are still many who doubt the polygraph’s validity so the polygraph results don’t come into courts of law in Florida. Florida made an attempt last year to get the Daubert standard into the court system and throw out Frye’s standard, but the bill ultimately died:

A polygraph was administered on a student volunteer and most of the audience and, of course, Mr. Morris were able to correctly identify where the student lied. The student was given a number (from 1-10) to put in his pocket. Mr. Morris didn’t know what the number was and neither did the audience. The student was hooked up to the polygraph machine and Mr. Morris asked him, “Is the number in your pocket the number 1?” and so on through the number 10. Therefore, the student was being truthful nine times and lied once – the number was five. When the student was asked if the number in his pocket was five, the polygraph chart indicated a lie. The student’s cardio levels, blood pressure levels, respiration levels were all being measured as well as the student had to sit on a motion-sensor pad, which would alert Mr. Morris to the student moving around in his seat – many individuals have learned certain “techniques” to utilize to “fool” the polygraph and many involve moving around in the seat, which is why the seat pad is there for the examiner.

 We also learned from Mr. Morris that polygraphs are more scientifically accurate than x-rays and MRIs, which are repeatedly used in court under expert testimony. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in New Mexico, which is allowing the polygraph results to come into court under the expert testimony of a polygraph examiner. And it’ll be interesting to see if the Florida Legislature tries again this year to get the Daubert standard into the courts and the Frye standard out.

Brian Morris administers a polygraph test to a student

 Written by Jennie Hayes

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Fall Fitness Frenzy

Fall fitness is off to a running start! Provided by Student Life, students now have multiple ways to burn fat, get stronger and feel better! Each week, after hitting the books, students are pounding the pavement in Runner’s Club, every Tuesday and Thursday. Led by Kayla Richmond, Runner’s Club is a perfect way to get off your seat and on your feet, burning calories and achieving a greater level of endurance and fitness. All levels of experience are welcome, from no-k’s to 5k’s. To join, meet outside the gym at 4:30pm on Tuesday and 7:30am on Thursday. For those who prefer to sweat indoors, Cycling offers an intense cardiovascular challenge with lower body burn.  From seated climbs to flat road sprints, enjoy your own Tour de France every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings from 7:00-8:00am in the gym or Tuesday evenings from 5:15-6:00pm. Your coaches Leanne Davis and Alexis Campos will guide you through the journey and leave you feeling winded yet invigorated. Space is limited and bikes are first come first serve. Get there early to join the race!

If your idea of cardio is dancing the night away to the latest music, Hip Hop Fitness with Tatiana Cordner is guaranteed to get your body moving and booty shaking. Learn the hottest dance moves while sweating to the sassy sounds of the top hits. No dance experience is necessary, just a willingness to have fun and learn something new. Groove to the beat every Monday evening from 5:00-6:00pm in the Dana Activity Room. As a Ying to the Yang of cardio classes and school work, students can de-stress in Yoga. Taught by Leanne Davis, Yoga is a relaxing and empowering class that utilizes a combination of Yoga and Pilates to increase flexibility, core and total body strength. Yoga is offered every Monday and Thursday morning from 7:00-8:00am in the Dana Activity Room. Mats are provided and no experience is necessary. Don’t miss your opportunity to participate in some of the greatest fitness classes and groups around. For more information, please contact Student Life.

Written by Leanne Davis


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Hurricane Preparedness Luncheon

Tom Iovino met thunderous applause from students when he came to Stetson Law’s Gulfport campus on August 23 to discuss preparations for a busy hurricane season. As the guest speaker of Stetson’s annual hurricane preparedness luncheon, Mr. Iovino’s delightful blend of humor and information once again proved that knowledge and fun can swirl together to create a wonderful student event. Thanks to the flood of useful tips and tools provided by Mr. Iovino, preparing for hurricanes should be a breeze for those lucky students in attendance.

Hurricane season officially started June 1, 2012, and lasts through November 30. Due to its proximity to both the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, Florida is particularly susceptible to a whirlwind of hurricane and tropical storm activity. Students will remember the risk that Hurricane Isaac posed to Tampa Bay before changing course at the last minute. However, other hurricanes and major tropical storms may follow, a number of which will have their eyes set on Florida.

The majority of hurricane activity occurs between mid-August and mid-October. As such, Mr. Iovino’s speech came at just the right time, particularly for students new to the state who may have never experienced a hurricane. But new residents are not the only ones who were blown away by Mr. Iovino: “I certainly learned a lot on what to do for a hurricane,” said attendee Bradley Muhs. “Even though I’ve lived in Florida for a long time, it’s always a good idea to have a plan.”

A downpour of thanks go to Mr. Iovino and the Office of Residential Life for putting on such a great event.

Several Students, Faculty and Staff gathered to learn tips and tricks from the pros of hurricane preparation. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Tom Iovino speaks to the Stetson Law community.

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SBA Spring Networking Social

On Wednesday, February 29, students and alumni gathered together at Bar Louie in Tampa for an evening of networking.

The SBA Alumni Relations Committee organized the event with assistance from the Office of Career Development, the Office of College Relations and the Office of Student Life.

The SBA Alumni Relations Committee hopes to make this an annual tradition, bringing attorneys from the Tampa Bay area together to reconnect and engage with current students.

Thank you to all who came out and made the evening so enjoyable – we hope to see you again next year!

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February Bar Exam Luncheon

Last week, the Office of Student Life hosted the annual February Bar Exam Luncheon for Stetson Law Alumni at the Embassy Suites in downtown Tampa.

We know that taking the bar exam can be a stressful experience, so we strive to  relieve that stress by providing an opportunity to enjoy a relaxing and delicious meal in a convenient location next to the testing site.

If you are graduating in May, be sure to watch for information about the July Bar Exam Luncheon. You won’t want to miss out!

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Raising the Bar

On Saturday, February 11, Stetson students joined together with local attorneys to participate in the Florida Bar YLD’s “Raising the Bar” initiative by making and serving over 300 lunches for residents of a local homeless shelter. Great job!

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SLDC Leadership Luncheon: The Failure of Ethical Leadership

On February 7, the Student Leadership Development Committee hosted alumnus L.T. Lafferty as the guest speaker for their monthly Leadership Luncheon. Mr. Lafferty is a shareholder at Fowler White in Tampa. He is the Firm’s Practice Leader for White Collar Crime, Government Investigations, and Corporate Compliance and Ethics practice.  Prior to Fowler White, he was an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) in Tampa for ten years. Particularly applicable to the luncheon topic of Ethics, he is a member of the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics and is on the Advisory Board for the University of Tampa Center for Ethics. His practice also includes a variety of State of Florida professional regulatory and disciplinary investigations, the representation of public officers and the provision of ethics advice in matters related to Florida’s Code of Conduct for state and local public officers and the Florida Commission on Ethics (FCE) as well as judicial officers in matters pertaining to the Florida Judicial Code of Conduct and the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC).

Mr. Lafferty spoke to an audience of about 100 students on a variety of topics, including learning from failure, ethics, white collar crime and how to infuse ethics into leadership. He emphasized that everyone fails, and society’s fixation with measuring people’s worth by their successes is inherently faulty. Instead, what is really important is how a person reacts to failure and how they use that failure to constantly improve. While Mr. Lafferty inserted numerous quotes into his presentation, one that he mentioned on this topic was from Winston Churchill, “Success is moving from one failure to the next failure, with enthusiasm.”

Ethics was addressed in the speech as the basis of law as a whole. Mr. Lafferty contends that all of the issues facing his white collar clients can be stripped down to one basic concept: ethical violations. Strong emphasis was put on strength of character and when faced with questions that blur the lines of what is ethical and what isn’t, making the ethical decision every time is something that can’t be taught, but it is really a question of character. Some statistics were mentioned about the increasing number of securities fraud, mortgage fraud, healthcare fraud and political corruption cases were emerging out of Florida yearly. While Mr. Lafferty believes that ethical people can be taught whatever skills they need to be successful, it is important for leaders to make ethical decisions every day and use those decisions as teaching tools for their followers.  After all, if his clients had made the undeniably ethical decisions in the first place, they would not be under federal investigation and in need of his defense.

Overall, Mr. Lafferty emphasized how important it is to learn from and move past failure to achieve greatness both personally and professionally.

Article by student Marisol Gomez

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Part-Time Students Society Thanksgiving Dinner

With the holidays quickly approaching, the Part-Time Students Society came together to celebrate on Friday with a Thanksgiving Feast for students, friends and family. The organization transformed the second floor Seminar Room at the Tampa Law Center into a beautiful space for family and friends to gather.


The group toasted with sparkling cider to celebrate another successful semester. Over 50 students and their families came out for the event.

Part-time students Joyce Endaya and Ferdian Jap were instrumental in making the event such a wonderful occasion.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!



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ABA Habitat for Humanity Build

On Saturday, October 8, a group of Stetson students came together to make a difference in their community.

Working with Habitat for Humanity, the volunteers helped create a roof for an under-construction home.

While the work was hard, spirits remained high and attitudes professional through the build, and everyone there had a fantastic time!

The future home owner was also there, as were representatives from Habitat.

All together, they created something wonderful, learned from one another, and grew from the experience.

The project was a huge success, and was a great start to a new year of community service at Stetson.

Article and photos by Brad Muhs

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Fall 2011 Student Organization Fair

Stetson University College of Law has over 45 registered student organizations on campus. These organizations range from religious groups to political groups to organizations focused on a particular area of law.

On Wednesday, September 21, our student organizations came together for our annual Student Organization Fair. We had a tremendous turnout from students looking for ways to get involved on campus.

Are you interested in finding out more about student organizations at Stetson University College of Law? Visit our student organizations’ webpage or email Get involved and get connected!




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