Law and Neuroscience

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What role should medical technology play in sentencing and calpability

Storyboard Text

  • I have a new case that I was hoping you could help me with. You'd be compensated. . .
  • Of course! Tell me about it.
  • I want to raise an insanity defense
  • I can do some brain scans and tell you what I find.
  • Medical Evidence at Trial By Kelsey Ruszkowski
  • The attorney tells the doctor about how his client had murdered his wife after they had been married for over 40 years. They had a good marriage and were generally happy together. They had only had a minor argument prior to the incident. His client doesn't know why he did it and is very distraught.
  • That's great for the case!
  • Not necessarily. Just because there is a lesion that doesn’t mean that it caused your client’s behavior.
  • Can he be rehabiliated?
  • . . . The doctor returns to the hospital where she is later met by the attorney's client.
  • Was it really his fault? Maybe the lesion caused it. . .
  • Will he do it again?
  • He's suffered enough.
  • Lets punish him!
  • The scans revealed a lesion in the areas which are responsible for emotional control. It could indicate a diminished capacity to control impulses and a greater likelihood of becoming angry.
  • . . . After passing the Frye test the doctor was allowed to testify about her findings. However, the brain scans were not allowed into evidence because of their potential to prejudice a jury with their bright colors. It's up to a jury to decide whether this evidence makes the defendant criminally responsible for his actions. . .
  • This begs the question, if actions can be traced back to brain structure, do people kill people or do brains kill people? Culpability is particularly important when it comes to sentencing. For now, it's for the jury to answer this question, but are they really the ones who are best situated to answer?
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