The ability to read minds has been an alluring dream for centuries today, neuroscientific evidence is moving into the courtoom.
Now, advances in neuroimaging technology such as the fMRI allow scientists to actually watch a person thinking. This should make behavior easier to predict in the future, with many implications for both civil and criminal law.
Neurolaw is the focus of Alison Bennett's recent article in the Texas Bar Journal. “This research is cutting edge, poised to be a significant catalyst for change in our legal system,” she says.
“Neuroscientific evidence has already been presented in more than 100 trials and has been cited in at least one Supreme Court decision.”
In the article, titled “Neurolaw: Brain Waves in the Courtroom,” Bennett and co-author Jason Bloom illustrate how neuroscientific evidence may soon be a common tool for use in jury selection, to help quantify pain and suffering in civil cases, and even to provide compelling evidence in the courtroom.
“In civil law, neuroscientific evidence may be used to 'see' pain and emotional distress with a brain scan in the future, giving jurors a way to quantify pain, and other subjective types of damages in civil trials,” Bennett explains.
“This could slow down or put an end to fraudulent claims that sometimes clog up our legal system, and result in more fair judgments for those who are truly suffering.”
During jury selection, jurors with bias towards any of the parties or the subject matter should be released to serve in a different trial, in theory. However, jurors often stay on a jury panel despite their bias.
In real world terms, neuroscientific evidence means one side or the other starts the trial behind the other side.
Scientists can now identify what bias looks like in the brain, leading to the tantalizing possibility of seating impartial jurors at all trials in the future…with a brain scan of each juror.
Alison Bennett provides services to some of the most reputable law firms across the nation.
As an author and co-author, Bennett has been published in leading journals including the Texas Bar Journal, American Bar Association In-House Litigator, Litigation Commentary and Review and The Jury Expert.
Bennett graduated summa cum laude from Texas Tech University, with a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology, Human Development and Communication Studies and a B.A. in Political Science. She serves on the Professional Standards Committee of American Society of Trial Consultants, and is an American Bar Association member, Litigation Section.
Bennett is Senior Litigation Consultant with Bloom Strategic Consulting, a trial consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas.