Defending a criminal trial
Defending a criminal trial. In the second part of the course, we explore how different parts of the brain contribute to decision-making. Consider the same famous trial that you discussed in the first assignment (http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/ftrials.htm (Links to an external site.)), in which you argued the case for the prosecution.You may also choose a different criminal trial on the same site if you prefer.For this assignment, suppose now that you are being called as an expert witness for the defense. Describe how you would argue the case for the defense. Specifically, your approach will be to argue that the defendant has diminished responsibility for the case, because certain parts of the brain functioned in such a way as to leave the defendant prone to commit the crime. How would you begin? What brain components might not be functioning normally, and in what way? How would you test the defendant to determine whether relevant parts of the brain are impaired? If the defendant has impaired brain function, how should that affect the case? Or should it? Be sure to explain clearly how your arguments are informed by the course material. To earn maximum credit, your paper must address the questions above and demonstrate that you both understand the course material so far and know how to apply it in constructing persuasive arguments. Length: 800-1000 words. In order to obtain maximum credit for this assignment you will need to go go to this website. (http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/ftrials.htm Please pick from any of the trials to write about and follow the instructions to detail above. I will give a lot of time to answer this question, so please take your time and answer it well. I have also provided attachments on useful powerpoints that you can use to form the best answer. Please also remember that this essay must be at least 800 words long! 900 words will be perfect.
As an expert witness for the defense in a criminal trial, my approach would be to argue that the defendant has diminished responsibility for the case because certain parts of their brain functioned in such a way as to leave them prone to commit the crime. To do so, I would draw on the material covered in the second part of the course, which explores how different parts of the brain contribute to decision-making.
One trial on the http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/ftrials.htm website that I could use to illustrate this point is the case of John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Hinckley’s defense team argued that he was not guilty by reason of insanity, and that his actions were the result of a severe mental illness.
To argue that Hinckley had diminished responsibility for the crime, I would begin by discussing the parts of the brain that are involved in decision-making and impulse control. Specifically, I would point to the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for planning, problem-solving, and decision-making, and the amygdala, which is involved in the processing of emotions and the regulation of the stress response.
Research has shown that damage to the prefrontal cortex and abnormalities in the amygdala can lead to impaired decision-making and a reduced ability to control impulses. In the case of Hinckley, his defense team argued that he had a long history of mental illness, including depression and psychosis, and that he was in the throes of a delusional belief that he needed to kill the President in order to impress actress Jodie Foster.
Given this history, I would argue that it is likely that Hinckley’s prefrontal cortex and amygdala were not functioning normally at the time of the assassination attempt. I would suggest that this impaired brain function could have led to a diminished capacity to control his actions and make rational decisions.
To test whether relevant parts of Hinckley’s brain were impaired, I would recommend a battery of psychological and neurological assessments. These might include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain activity, neuropsychological tests to evaluate cognitive function, and psychiatric evaluations to assess mental health and potential underlying psychiatric conditions.
If these assessments revealed impaired brain function, it would be reasonable to conclude that Hinckley had diminished responsibility for his actions. This could impact the case by potentially reducing the severity of the charges against him or by leading to a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity.
However, it is important to note that the legal system is not always equipped to handle cases involving impaired brain function. For example, the criteria for determining legal insanity may not always align with scientific understandings of mental illness and brain function. In addition, there may be challenges in establishing a causal link between impaired brain function and criminal behavior.
As an expert witness for the defense in a criminal trial, I would argue that impaired brain function could lead to diminished responsibility for criminal actions. By drawing on the material covered in the course regarding the brain regions involved in decision-making and impulse control, I would suggest that psychological and neurological assessments could help to determine whether relevant brain components are impaired. If impaired brain function is identified, it could impact the case by reducing the severity of charges or leading to a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity. However, it is important to consider the limitations of the legal system in handling cases involving impaired brain function.