Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My Neurons Made Me Do It...

The Blossoming Field of "Neurolaw": An article in the NY Times explores the 'biology as the basis for behavior' defense in criminal cases. In a trial that opened in the last few days in a State Supreme Court in Manhattan, jurors will be asked to decide whether the defendant was a sadistic man preying on an unsuspecting woman or whether his actions were the result of mental illness.

Disease Drove Sex Attack, Defense Says
"...Now the writer, Peter Braunstein, 43, is about to go on trial, charged with a bizarre crime against a woman who worked in his own newsroom. Prosecutors say he dressed as a firefighter, staged a fire to get into her Chelsea apartment, tied her to a bed, drugged her with chloroform and sexually molested her for 13 hours...
In similar cases, lawyers have argued that their clients were in a dissociated state, much like sleepwalking. A version of this defense, said Rachel Barkow, a law professor at New York University, would be: “You know killing is wrong, but it turns out you think you’re in the middle of a video game. Because of a paranoid delusional state, you thought it was all a fantasy.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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