The number of neurolaw cases rose from 100 to 250 a year over the eight-year survey. In 2005, neuroscience appeared in 30 felony cases that did not involve homicide. That number rose to more than 100 in 2012.
Neuroscientific evidence is increasingly being offered in court cases. Consequently, the legal system needs neuroscientists to act as expert witnesses who can explain the limitations and interpretations of neuroscientific findings so that judges and jurors can make informed and appropriate inferences. The growing role of neuroscientists in court means that neuroscientists should be aware of important differences between the scientific and legal fields, and, especially, how scientific facts can be easily misunderstood by non-scientists, including judges and jurors.
Like sands through the hourglass — back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s with the swing/swing door of the forensic psychology & law merge of linguistics, educating lawyers on psychological concepts and psychologists on legalese then translating expert witnesses to the jury — so are the days of our lives.
Based upon the popular, but largely incorrect, belief that sex offenders have an abnormally high risk of recidivism, sex offenders represent an ideal population to target for preventive detention. (…)
These particular myths of extremely high recidivism rates and “stranger danger” have largely served to support various
restrictions on sex offenders as well as substantiate court opinions
upholding those restrictions.
The more emotionally charged legislature based on inaccurate public perception & resulting panic happens…the more it stays the same: Jury Clears Pataki Over Post-Prison Detention of Sex Offenders.
Research into the neural workings of the human brain—with the aid of sophisticated brain-imaging techniques such as fMRI—will, some predict, probably completely change nearly every area of law. Some believe that, in time, neuroscience will dominate the entire legal system (…) Indeed, one would be hard pressed to think of a single legal issue not potentially affected by the claims made on behalf of the influence of neuroscience on law.
Neurolaw conference announcement: Guess where I’ll be on Sept. 7th & 8th?
At Rutgers School of Law-Camden. The line up: Debra Denno, Adam Kolber, John Mikhail, Michael Moore, Stephen Morse, Michael Pardo, Frederick Schauer and Nicole Vincent. If you’ve been around for a minute, these names should look very familiar. And exciting.
Neuroscientific evidence is increasingly reaching United States courtrooms in a number of legal contexts. And the emerging field of Law and Neuroscience is being built on a foundation that joins: a) rapidly developing technologies and techniques of neuroscience; b) quickly expanding legal scholarship on the implications of neuroscience; and c) neuroscientific research designed specifically to explore legally relevant topics.
Despite the sharply increasing interest in neuroscientific evidence, it remains unclear how the legal system – at the courtroom, regulatory, and policy levels – will resolve the many challenges that new neuroscience applications raise.
Law and Neuroscience in the United States, Jones & Shen [via].
So maybe people “at the courtroom, regulatory, and policy levels” should be chiming in about how these challenges will be handled. If the science is not ready and evidentiary standards aren’t met because of that, is all we can do wait until the scientific community agrees (good-luck!) that whatever neuro evidence does meet the standard… and then address the backlog of how to deal with it? Believe it or not, some legal people disagree. I’ll get to that later.
What I’m sayin’ is this integration should be talked about beyond the realms of neuroscientists and legal scholar’s offices and publications. Seeing how the whole forensic psych integration went down (in terms of culpability based on mental illness or forced medication and punishment issues), I have a bleak, but realistic (and secretly enthusiastic/optimistic) view of how this will pan out.
This Jones & Shen paper is but one chapter in a series looking at neuroscience and law in 18 other countries. If you missed it, I gave a neurolaw play by play of how those countries…