'His Brain Has Been Mismanaged with Great Skill': How Will Jurors Respond to Neuroimaging Testimony in Insanity Defense Cases?
46 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2009
Date Written: February 2, 2009
The robust debate over neuroimaging has highlighted a series of law-and-policy questions dealing primarily with reliability, admissibility and availability. When we consider the topic that I will be addressing in this paper - the impact of this evidence on juror decision-making in insanity defense cases - we need to recalibrate our focus so as to incorporate other questions that are as essential (most likely, more essential) to the resolution of the underlying dilemma: (1) to what extent will such evidence - apparently, less inherently easy to falsify - have on jurors whose inherent suspicion of mental state opinion testimony is well-documented, (2) will this falsifiability issue even matter to jurors whose personal values/moral codes reject the motion of any non-responsibility verdict because it is dissonant with their heuristics-driven false ordinary common sense, (3) will there now be some shred of truth in one of the standard insanity defense myths (that the insanity defense is a rich man's ploy); that is, will the rich and famous be able to disproportionately rely on neuroimaging testimony in their trials?, (4) to what extent will sanism and pretextuality drive juror behavior in such cases, and (5) what are the therapeutic jurisprudence implications of the answers to all of these questions?
This presentation addresses, though it does not fully answer, all of these questions in the hopes that other legal scholars will be stimulated to consider them each in depth in the future.
Keywords: insanity defense, neuroimaging, evidence, jury decisionmaking, criminal procedure
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