37 S.U. L. Rev. 25 (2009-2010)
Guilty or Innocent...Just Take a Look at My Brain - Analyzing the Nexus between Traumatic Brain Injury and Criminal Responsibility

handle is hein.journals/soulr37 and id is 27 raw text is: GUILTY OR INNOCENT?... JUST TAKE A LOOK AT MY
BRAIN - ANALYZING THE NEXUS BETWEEN
TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY AND CRIMINAL
RESPONSIBILITY
LYDIA D. JOHNSON*
I. INTRODUCTION
In 1985, President George H.W. Bush proclaimed the 1990s
to be the Decade of the Brain.1 As a result, knowledge and ap-
plications stemming from increased emphasis on brain science, as
well as contemporary advances in forensic neuroscience, have
emerged.2 These advances pose a unique challenge for a criminal
justice system that is based on the idea that people have the free
will to choose and control their behavior. Rooted in the premise
that people commit criminal acts either intentionally or uninten-
tionally, the results of recent neuroscience studies have chal-
lenged the legal community to reassess how criminal responsibili-
ty might be affected by traumatic brain injury. As such, these
new findings should be fully examined and analyzed. Specifical-
ly, science has shown that some brain abnormalities can affect
decision making or trigger violence.3 Thus, psychiatrists argue it
is always relevant to evaluate the psychiatric, neurological, and
neuropsychological factors of an accused to determine whether
those factors may have influenced, or in some cases caused, his
deviant behavior.4 A clear understanding of how brain injury
may affect criminal responsibility can assist the prosecution in
*  Lydia D. Johnson is the Director of Clinical Studies Program and a
Professor of Law at Thurgood Marshall School of Law. J.D., South Texas College
of Law; B.A. Texas A & M University.
1. See Decade of the Brain, 55 Fed. Reg. 29553 (July 17, 1990).
2. BRiENT GARLAND ET AL., NI,:UROSCIENCE AND THE LAW: BRAIN, MINI),
AND THE SCAIES OF JUSTICE 3 (2004).
3. ABC News, Neuroscience Sparks Criminal Responsibility Dilem-
ma, Nov. 2, 2007, http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/11/02/2080086.htm
(last visited Mar. 1, 2010) [hereinafter Neuroscience].
4. William J. Winslade, Traumatic Brain Injury and Criminal Re-
sponsibility, 10 MEi). ETHICS 4 (Fall 2003), available at http://www.lahey.org/
NewsPubs/Puhlications/Ethics/JournalFall2003/Journal-Fall2003_Legal.asp.

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