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Article
Life, Death, and Neuroimaging: The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Defense's Use of Neuroimages in Capital Cases - Lessons from the Front
Cornell Law Faculty Publications
  • John H. Blume, Cornell Law School
  • Emily C. Paavola, Death Penalty Resource and Defense Center, Columbia, South Carolina
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
1-1-2011
Keywords
  • Death penalty,
  • Capital cases,
  • Neuroimaging in law,
  • Capital punishment
Abstract

The use of neuroimaging in capital cases has become increasingly common. An informal survey of cases produced over one hundred opinions from reported decisions alone discussing the use of computed tomography (CT) scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional MRI, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans, and similar technology in capital cases. This article gives practical advice to defense counsel considering the use of neuroimaging in a capital case. We discuss how, in the right case, this technology can be a valuable investigative tool used to produce an important component of a successful mitigation story. However, we also discuss a number of pitfalls we have encountered in our own practice. Using case examples, we elaborate on the serious risks involved, including: (a) errors in analysis; and, (b) overreliance on imaging, and provide specific guidance on how to navigate the pros and cons of the defense’s use of neuroimaging in capital cases.

Publication Citation
Published in: Mercer Law Review, vol. 62, no. 3 (2011).
Citation Information
John H. Blume and Emily C. Paavola. "Life, Death, and Neuroimaging: The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Defense's Use of Neuroimages in Capital Cases - Lessons from the Front" (2011)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john_blume/48/