Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How far should neuroscience evidence go in court trials?

Date:
February 21, 2010
Source:
Stanford University
Summary:
Although MRI scans showing a malfunctioning brain could conjure empathy and a finding of innocence for a criminal defendant, they might just as well lead jurors and judges to opt for convictions and long sentences, the law professor says.

A lawyer is trying to convince a jury that his client really is crazy. It's usually a tough argument to sell in a court of law. But what if the lawyer has a picture of his client's brain that shows there's something biologically wrong with it? Can that evidence help persuade a jury? Should it even be allowed as evidence?

Related Articles


Those are some of the questions that were addressed during a presentation and mock trial Feb. 20 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Diego.

Hank Greely, a Stanford law professor and expert on the legal, ethical and social issues surrounding the biosciences, took on the role of prosecutor during a presentation titled "The Brain on Trial: Neuroscience Evidence in the Courtroom."

"The prosecutor's typical position is that brain scan evidence shouldn't be used because they say it's not scientifically useful," Greely said. "They say it will confuse the jury, that it's not relevant, that the technology isn't good enough yet. But most of all, they'll say that's fine that you found this person has an abnormal brain -- but how many other people have similar abnormalities and don't commit crimes? The answer will be: quite a few."

With no hard-and-fast rules on whether neuroscience evidence should be allowed in state and federal courts, Greely is studying criminal cases in California that have featured brain scan images to help prove guilt or maintain innocence.

He's so far found that defense attorneys are more likely than prosecutors to try using neuroscience evidence, but he cautions that the tool is a double-edged sword.

While an MRI result showing a deformed or malfunctioning brain could conjure empathy and a finding of innocence, it could also lead jurors and judges to opt for convictions and long sentences based on the assumption that such a damaged mind will only convince the person using it to offend again.

"Neuroscience evidence will probably mostly be used alongside behavioral evidence," Greely said. "There will always be behavioral evidence to show a defendant was crazy as a loon. Neuroscience will be able to further hammer home the idea that the person truly has a problem."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stanford University. The original article was written by Adam Gorlick. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Stanford University. "How far should neuroscience evidence go in court trials?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100220204806.htm>.
Stanford University. (2010, February 21). How far should neuroscience evidence go in court trials?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100220204806.htm
Stanford University. "How far should neuroscience evidence go in court trials?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100220204806.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) With no immediate prospect of sanctions relief for Iran, and no solid progress in negotiations with the West over the country's nuclear programme, Ciara Lee asks why talks have still not produced results and what a resolution would mean for both parties. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
FCC Forces T-Mobile To Alert Customers Of Data Throttling

FCC Forces T-Mobile To Alert Customers Of Data Throttling

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) T-Mobile and the FCC have reached an agreement requiring the company to alert customers when it throttles their data speeds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Symantec Uncovers Sophisticated Spying Malware Regin

Symantec Uncovers Sophisticated Spying Malware Regin

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A Symantec white paper reveals details about Regin, a spying malware of unusual complexity which is believed to be state-sponsored. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins