Actions Speak Louder Than Images: The Use of Neuroscientific Evidence in Criminal Cases

Journal of Law and the Biosciences, pp. 1–7, 2016

U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-17

8 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2016

See all articles by Stephen Morse

Stephen Morse

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Date Written: June 11, 2016

Abstract

This invited commentary for Journal of Law & the Biosciences considers four empirical studies previously published in the journal of the reception of neuroscientific evidence in criminal cases in the United States, Canada, England and Wales, and the Netherlands. There are conceded methodological problems with all, but the data are nonetheless instructive and suggestive. The thesis of the comment is that the courts are committing the same errors that have bedeviled the reception of psychiatric and psychological evidence. There is insufficient caution about the state of the science, and more importantly, there is insufficient understanding of the relevance of the neuroscientific evidence to the precise legal question being addressed. These studies demonstrate yet again that in virtually all cases, actions speak louder than images and that when the behavioral evidence is unclear, the neuroscientific evidence is scarcely helpful in resolving the legal issue.

Keywords: Criminal Law, Empirical Legal Studies, Evidence, Relevance, Courts, Sentencing, Punishment, Culpability, Excuse, Competency, Mitigation, Compulsion, Predictions, Neuroscience, Neuroimaging, Brain Imaging

Suggested Citation

Morse, Stephen J., Actions Speak Louder Than Images: The Use of Neuroscientific Evidence in Criminal Cases (June 11, 2016). Journal of Law and the Biosciences, pp. 1–7, 2016; U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2798196

Stephen J. Morse (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
219
Abstract Views
1,071
rank
139,526
PlumX Metrics