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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Linda Gay Allard contacted her local Wal-Mart store in 2003, complaining that her husband found straight pins in sausage she had purchased from the store. In addition to contacting Wal-Mart, Allard filed a complaint with the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service. The USDA joined with the U.S. Secret Service and conducted an investigation of Allard’s claim. As a part of the investigation, Secret Service Agent William Wind conducted a polygraph examination of both Allard and her husband. At the conclusion of Allard’s polygraph exam, Agent Wind informed Allard that the results indicated she had not been truthful. Allard then gave the following written confession: “I put the pins in the sausage before I left for work on Thursday, December 4, at 3 p.m. I was hoping to get money from Hillshire Farms. I got the pins from the sewing box.” Allard told Agent Wind that she and her husband had nearly $60,000 in consumer debt that they were struggling to repay. Following her confession, the government charged Allard with one count of making a false claim of consumer product tampering in violation of 18 U.S.C. � 1365(c)(1). At a pre-trial bench conference, the district court granted the government’s unopposed motion in limine to prohibit the introduction of evidence regarding the fact that Allard “was asked to take and did take a polygraph test or any of the results.” Nonetheless, the testimony relating to Allard’s polygraph examination was eventually admitted during both the government’s cross-examination of Allard, and Agent Wind’s testimony during the government’s rebuttal. The evidence came in after Allard testified on direct examination that her confession was involuntary because it was coerced by Agent Wind. The government, reversing its earlier position, then successfully moved to introduce evidence regarding the polygraph test. The government cited an opinion from another circuit that held that polygraph evidence could be used to rebut a defendant’s assertion of a coerced confession. On appeal Allard raised two challenges to her conviction: First, she contended that the district court admitted testimony relating to her polygraph examination in violation of Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and 403; and second, she contended that the district court erred in giving the deadlocked jury a modified “Allen” charge. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court found that Allard opened the door to the polygraph test evidence. “Where a defendant, such as Allard, chooses to contest before the jury the voluntariness of her confession, it is only fair to permit the government, in response, to set the scene of that confession. Given these circumstances, Allard has failed to establish that the district court abused its discretion under Rule 403 in admitting testimony relating to her polygraph examination.” In addition, the court upheld the district court’s modified Allen charge. Such charges are permissible, within the district court’s broad discretion, where “the circumstances under which the district court gives the instruction are not coercive, and the content of the charge is not prejudicial.” The modified Allen charge given by the district court at Allard’s trial, the court found, was substantively the same as the charge found in the Fifth Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions. OPINION:Jolly, J.; King, Garwood, and Jolly, J.J.

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