Neuroscience and behavioral genetics in US criminal law

Nita A. Farahany* Law and Philosophy, Duke University, 210 Science Drive, Box 90362, Durham, NC 27708, USA *Corresponding author. E-mail: farahany{at}duke.edu Abstract The goal of this study was to examine the growing use of neurological and behavioral genetic evidence by criminal defendants in US criminal law. Judicial opinions issued between 2005–12 that discussed the use of neuroscience or behavioral genetics by criminal defendants were identified, coded and analysed. Yet, criminal defendants are increasingly introducing such evidence to challenge defendants’ competency, the effectiveness of defense counsel at trial, and to mitigate punishment. Key words I. INTRODCUTION Legal scholars, scientists, and commentators lament the onslaught of behavioral genetics and neuroscience in the criminal courtroom. Fueled largely by anecdotal evidence about the use of bioscience in criminal cases, or media reports of high-profile…


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