Study: Judicial opinions mentioning neuroscientific evidence doubled between 2005 and 2012

law_brainscansThe Brain Gets Its Day in Court (The Atlantic):

The crime was brutal…Detrich is still on death row today as the appeals process drags on, but in 2010, his lawyers achieved a vic­to­ry of sorts. They claimed that Det­rich had received “inef­fec­tive assis­tance of coun­sel” at his tri­al, because his orig­i­nal legal team had failed to present evi­dence of neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal abnor­mal­i­ties and brain dam­age that might have swayed the court to give him a less­er sen­tence. A fed­er­al appeals court agreed. The rul­ing said, in effect, that Det­rich had been denied his Con­sti­tu­tion­al right to a fair tri­al because his lawyers hadn’t called an expert wit­ness to talk about his brain.

That judi­cial opin­ion is just one of near­ly 1,600 exam­ined in a recent study doc­u­ment­ing the expand­ing use of brain sci­ence in the crim­i­nal-jus­tice sys­tem. The study, by Nita Fara­hany at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty, found that the num­ber of judi­cial opin­ions that men­tion neu­ro­sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence more than dou­bled between 2005 and 2012.”

Study: Neu­ro­science and behav­ioral genet­ics in US crim­i­nal law: an empir­i­cal analy­sis (Jour­nal of Law and the Biosciences)

  • Abstract: The goal of this study was to exam­ine the grow­ing use of neu­ro­log­i­cal and behav­ioral genet­ic evi­dence by crim­i­nal defen­dants in US crim­i­nal law. Judi­cial opin­ions issued between 2005-12 that dis­cussed the use of neu­ro­science or behav­ioral genet­ics by crim­i­nal defen­dants were iden­ti­fied, cod­ed and analysed. Crim­i­nal defen­dants are increas­ing­ly intro­duc­ing such evi­dence to chal­lenge defen­dants’ com­pe­ten­cy, the effec­tive­ness of defense coun­sel at tri­al, and to mit­i­gate punishment.
  • Con­clu­sion: The use of neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal evi­dence in crim­i­nal cas­es may draw seri­ous crit­i­cism and jus­ti­fi­able con­cern by sci­en­tists. But neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal evi­dence also has improved the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem through bet­ter com­pe­ten­cy deter­mi­na­tions and recon­sid­er­a­tions about the role of pun­ish­ment in soci­ety. And neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal evi­dence at times replaces what was even shod­di­er evi­dence that we relied about to make infer­ences about the indi­vid­ual capac­i­ties and behav­ior of a crim­i­nal defen­dant. Giv­en the recent rul­ings about the neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal evi­dence and inef­fec­tive assis­tance of coun­sel, it’s safe to assume that neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal evi­dence is now a main­stay of our crim­i­nal jus­tice system.

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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