Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Neurisprudence: Judges and Neuroscience

By Jyotpal Singh in Neurisprudence

Judges are now being educated about neuroscience. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in conjunction with the National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists (NCLS) has recently begun holding seminars on Neuroscience and Law aimed at educating judges and increasing the linkages between the scientific and legal communities.

This is a very important step forward for both law and science because judges play such a critical role in the legal system. Judges make crucial decisions which affect not only the immediate case but also the later cases that will be bound by the decision under the principle of stare decisis. Informed, reasoned decisions can only be made about scientific topics in the courtroom when judges have good information and are well-educated regarding the issue. One of the dangers of mixing developing science and legal policy is that the scientific information can be distorted and abused. As neuroscience evidence and issues are brought into courtrooms more in the future, the need to have well-informed judges will grow to ensure that the new knowledge can be properly incorporated into the law while avoiding abuse or distortion of the science. This new development is a sign of change in the right direction.

For a summary of the fourth seminar in the series and other information, visit:

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