It has become increasingly clear that implications for criminal justice – both negative and positive – emerge from the rapid, important, and challenging developments in cognitive neuroscience, the study of how the brain thinks. Two examples will illustrate.
First, lawyers are ever more frequently bringing neuroscientific evidence into the courtroom, often in the forms of testimony about, and graphic images of, human brains. This trend has produced many new challenges for judges as they attempt to provide fair rulings on the admissibility of such technical evidence, consider its proper interpretation, and assess whether the probative value of such testimony may be outweighed by its potentially prejudicial effect on juror deliberation, and hence on trial outcomes.
Second, the fast expansion of new imaging and analytic techniques has generated the hope that neuroscience, properly deployed, might help to further the goals of criminal justice. For example, given that the criminal justice system already makes predictions about future antisocial conduct for purposes of sentencing and parole, some believe that neural markers might eventually improve the accuracy of those predictions.
Criminal Law | Law | Science and Technology Law
Owen D. Jones, Richard J. Bonnie, BJ Casey, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris B. Hoffman, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer A. Richeson, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim Taylor-Thompson, Anthony Wagner & Gideon Yaffe,
Law and Neuroscience: Recommendations Submitted to the President's Bioethics Commission,
J. L. & Biosciences
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/1874