She told any attorney who called late at night about a claim that the details of the settlement would have to be worked out face-to-face.
“For me, it was more effective. The attorneys didn’t like it, but I didn’t care what they liked because I had the checkbook,” said Brandon, a Jasper native who has now come home in retirement.
Brandon’s negotiating skills and no-nonsense attitude served her well when she changed professions a few years later.
For more than 25 years, Brandon administered polygraph tests in several states and on some nationally-known cases.
Most of the polygraphs in the Scott Peterson case, including the one of Peterson’s girlfriend, Amber Frey, were administered by Brandon.
She and her partner were also chosen to polygraph O.J. Simpson, but Simpson backed out at the last minute.
Brandon was encouraged to go to polygraph school by a friend who knew she was tired of her heavy workload as an adjuster and that she wanted to spend more time with her son.
The training was not what Brandon expected. She learned that her job would involve much more than turning the polygraph instrument on and off.
She would not only be interpreting the results but also interrogating the subject if he or she were deceptive.
Brandon, unlike her male partner, could not hope to get a confession from a suspect by admonishing him to “be a man” and tell the truth.
She used a more motherly approach.
“I would say things like ‘I know your parents raised you to be a good person, and you’ve gotten off track a little bit here. I know if your mother and Daddy were sitting here with us right now, they would want you to tell the truth,” Brandon said.
Brandon added that by that point in the polygraph, everyone she tested knew that his or her comments could be brought up in court.
Some were taken by surprise when she began the test by advising them of their constitutional rights. However, those who listened learned that they had a right to remain silent and could not be forced to take the polygraph.
In some cases, it was Brandon who refused to administer the test. She opposed testing anyone who was presumed to be innocent.
“I’m not going to waste my time and taxpayer dollars to clear 25 people. They needed to bring me a good, solid suspect,” Brandon said.
The test could take anywhere from three to six hours to complete depending on whether the subject was truthful.
Brandon had a colorful way of describing the charts to a deceptive suspect once the polygraph was over.
She called spikes “the stairway to heaven” because the suspect needed to talk to God about what had happened to cause such an extreme reaction on certain questions.
When the responses on the chart leveled off, she said the suspect’s was inwardly shrinking in hopes that she would not see the previous lies.
“You cannot feel those things happening to you, and there’s nothing you can do to stop them,” Brandon said.
According to Brandon, everyone who takes a polygraph has one question that he or she doesn’t want asked.
The subject may be illegal drug use or thefts from employers. However, Brandon said past indiscretions did not have to become a problem in a polygraph as long as the crime was not related to the focus of investigation.
“Once you tell me about it and know that nothing can happen to you, you shouldn’t have a problem with the rest of the polygraph. You’re through the terrible thing you worried about,” Brandon said.
Brandon said it is possible for an innocent person to fail a polygraph but chances are slim if the person administering the test is well-trained and experienced.
She added that although a guilty subject may learn enough counter measures to outsmart a polygraph, he or she will never be able to deceive themselves.
“I firmly believe that we all know what the truth is in our minds and in our hearts,” Brandon said.
Brandon knew better than to rely on emotions in her line of work. A little lady who liked to bake cookies could be just as guilty of murder as a gangster.
Only the polygraph instrument could tell the difference between truth and deception.
However, several years into retirement, Brandon is still experiencing the emotional consequences of hearing the gruesome details of heinous crimes year after year.
“It’s hard to just pack the instrument up and go home saying, ‘That’s the end of another day’s work.’ It doesn’t leave you like that,” Brandon said.