Readying the Legal Community for More Neuroscientific Evidence

Engelstad PhotographyA late-career ad man came home from work one day, strangled his wife and threw her out their high-rise window in New York City. In his defense, he sought to introduce into evidence subsequent brain scans that showed a very large cyst compressing his frontal lobes (People v. Weinstein). Should such scans be admitted? If so, should they make any ­difference? The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled (in Montgomery v. Louisiana) that the “no mandatory life without parole for juveniles” principle is retroactive because, among other things, adolescents deserve to have a meaningful opportunity for reform, and to demonstrate that they have matured. Will recent neuroscientific and behavioral findings about young adults, which suggest that in emotionally charged situations they behave more like juveniles than like older adults, affect…


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