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Take The Motherless Children Off The Street: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome And The Criminal Justice System, Michael L. Perlin, Heather Ellis Cucolo Apr 2023

Take The Motherless Children Off The Street: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome And The Criminal Justice System, Michael L. Perlin, Heather Ellis Cucolo

Articles & Chapters

Remarkably, there has been minimal academic legal literature about the interplay between fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD) and critical aspects of many criminal trials, including issues related to the role of experts, quality of counsel, competency to stand trial, the insanity defense, and sentencing and the death penalty. Nor has there been any literature about the interplay between FASD-related issues and the legal school of thought known as therapeutic jurisprudence.

In this article, the co-authors will first define fetal alcohol syndrome and explain its significance to the criminal justice system. We will then look at the specific role of experts …


"Insanity Is Smashing Up Against My Soul": The Fifth Circuit And Competency To Be Executed Cases After Panetti V. Quarterman, Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon Apr 2022

"Insanity Is Smashing Up Against My Soul": The Fifth Circuit And Competency To Be Executed Cases After Panetti V. Quarterman, Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon

Articles & Chapters

One of the open secrets of death penalty law and policy is the astonishingly high percentage of individuals on death row with serious mental disabilities. This is well known to lawyers who represent this cohort (and presumably, equally well known to the district attorneys who nevertheless prosecute them and the judges who try and sentence them), but is not generally discussed in the press nor, certainly, in political discourse. In the aggregate, this is far beneath society’s radar.

It is now over 14 years since the US Supreme Court decided a case that clarified the underlying issues. In Panetti v. …


"Man Is Opposed To Fair Play": An Empirical Analysis Of How The Fifth Circuit Has Failed To Take Seriously Atkins V. Virginia, Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon, Sarah Wetzel Jan 2021

"Man Is Opposed To Fair Play": An Empirical Analysis Of How The Fifth Circuit Has Failed To Take Seriously Atkins V. Virginia, Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon, Sarah Wetzel

Articles & Chapters

In 2002, for the first time, in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), the United States Supreme Court found that it violated the Eighth Amendment to subject persons with intellectual disabilities to the death penalty. Since that time, it has returned to this question multiple times, clarifying that inquiries into a defendant’s intellectual disability (for purposes of determining whether he is potentially subject to the death penalty) cannot be limited to a bare numerical “reading” of an IQ score, and that state rules based on superseded medical standards created an unacceptable risk that a person with intellectual disabilities could …


Capital And Punishment: Resource Scarcity Increases Endorsement Of The Death Penalty, Keelah E. G. Williams, Ashley M. Votruba, Steven L. Neuberg, Michael J. Saks Jan 2019

Capital And Punishment: Resource Scarcity Increases Endorsement Of The Death Penalty, Keelah E. G. Williams, Ashley M. Votruba, Steven L. Neuberg, Michael J. Saks

Department of Psychology: Faculty Publications

Faced with punishing severe offenders, why do some prefer imprisonment whereas others impose death? Previous research exploring death penalty attitudes has primarily focused on individual and cultural factors. Adopting a functional perspective, we propose that environmental features may also shape our punishment strategies. Individuals are attuned to the availability of resources within their environments. Due to heightened concerns with the costliness of repeated offending, we hypothesize that individuals tend toward elimination-focused punishments during times of perceived scarcity. Using global and United States data sets (studies 1 and 2), we find that indicators of resource scarcity predict the presence of capital …


A World Of Steel-Eyed Death: An Empirical Evaluation Of The Failure Of The Strickland Standard To Ensure Adequate Counsel To Defendants With Mental Disabilities Facing The Death Penalty, Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon, Sarah Chatt Jan 2019

A World Of Steel-Eyed Death: An Empirical Evaluation Of The Failure Of The Strickland Standard To Ensure Adequate Counsel To Defendants With Mental Disabilities Facing The Death Penalty, Michael L. Perlin, Talia Roitberg Harmon, Sarah Chatt

Articles & Chapters

Anyone who has been involved with death penalty litigation in the past four decades knows that one of the most scandalous aspects of that process—in many ways, the most scandalous—is the inadequacy of counsel so often provided to defendants facing execution. By now, virtually anyone with even a passing interest is well versed in the cases and stories about sleeping lawyers, missed deadlines, alcoholic and disoriented lawyers, and, more globally, lawyers who simply failed to vigorously defend their clients. This is not news.

And, in the same vein, anyone who has been so involved with this area of law and …


Moral Disengagement In Legal Judgments, Tess M. S. Neal, Robert J. Cramer Jan 2017

Moral Disengagement In Legal Judgments, Tess M. S. Neal, Robert J. Cramer

Community & Environmental Health Faculty Publications

We investigated the role of moral disengagement in a legally-relevant judgment in this theoretically-driven empirical analysis. Moral disengagement is a social-cognitive phenomenon through which people reason their way toward harming others, presenting a useful framework for investigating legal judgments that often result in harming individuals for the good of society. We tested the role of moral disengagement in forensic psychologists' willingness to conduct the most ethically questionable clinical task in the criminal justice system: competence for execution evaluations. Our hypothesis that moral disengagement would function as mediator of participants' existing attitudes and their judgmentsa theoretical bridge between attitudes and judgmentswas …


When Empathy Bites Back: Cautionary Tales From Neuroscience For Capital Sentencing, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, John H. Blume Nov 2016

When Empathy Bites Back: Cautionary Tales From Neuroscience For Capital Sentencing, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, John H. Blume

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The neuroscience of empathy provides one more reason to believe that the decision to sentence another human being to death is inevitably an arbitrary one, and one that cannot be divorced from either race or caprice. While we can tinker with aspects of capital trials that exacerbate caprice and discrimination stemming from empathy, we cannot alter basic neural responses to the pain of others and therefore cannot rationalize (in either sense of the word) empathic responses.


Merchants And Thieves, Hungry For Power: Prosecutorial Misconduct And Passive Judicial Complicity In Death Penalty Trials Of Defendants With Mental Disabilities, Michael L. Perlin Jan 2016

Merchants And Thieves, Hungry For Power: Prosecutorial Misconduct And Passive Judicial Complicity In Death Penalty Trials Of Defendants With Mental Disabilities, Michael L. Perlin

Articles & Chapters

In spite of the Supreme Court’s decisions in Ford v. Wainwright (1986), Atkins v. Virginia (2002), and Hall v. Florida (2014), persons with severe psychosocial and intellectual disabilities continue to be given death sentences, in some cases leading to actual execution. Although the courts have been aware of this for decades -- dating back at least to the infamous Ricky Rector case in Arkansas -- these base miscarriages of justice continue and show no sign of abating. Scholars have written clearly and pointedly on this issue (certainly, more frequently since the Atkins decision in 2002), but little has changed.

I …


The Death Penalty And Mental Illness In International Human Rights Law, Richard Wilson Jan 2016

The Death Penalty And Mental Illness In International Human Rights Law, Richard Wilson

Articles in Law Reviews & Other Academic Journals

Introduction: This symposium primarily focuses on the extraordinary legal and personal saga of one man, Joe Giarratano, his decades-long heroic struggle to overturn his death sentence and, ultimately, to obtain his release and exoneration. Prior to the conference, my only acquaintance with the Giarratano case was the decision in Murray v. Giarratanol-the U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that the Sixth Amendment right to appointed counsel does not extend to the post-conviction stages of death penalty litigation. The symposium provided a much broader perspective on the saga of Joe Giarratano, whose own legal skills parallel those of the many lawyers involved …


The Legal Significance Of The Psychological Ability To Appreciate The “Other”, Paul F. Rothstein Nov 2012

The Legal Significance Of The Psychological Ability To Appreciate The “Other”, Paul F. Rothstein

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Recently the U.S. Supreme Court, citing neurological and psychological studies, held that because juveniles are deficient in appreciating consequences to others, they should never be given the death penalty. The author found, in his years as a legal scholar, educator, and practitioner, that “appreciating the ‘other’”--putting oneself in the position of others---is critical to law and the study of law in more than the obvious ways.

The author became aware of empirical studies and psychological experiments demonstrating that children below a certain age have trouble seeing things from another’s vantage point, and found that the facility to do so develops …


Engaging Capital Emotions, Douglas A. Berman, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2008

Engaging Capital Emotions, Douglas A. Berman, Stephanos Bibas

All Faculty Scholarship

The Supreme Court, in Kennedy v. Louisiana, is about to decide whether the Eighth Amendment forbids capital punishment for child rape. Commentators are aghast, viewing this as a vengeful recrudescence of emotion clouding sober, rational criminal justice policy. To their minds, emotion is distracting. To ours, however, emotion is central to understand the death penalty. Descriptively, emotions help to explain many features of our death-penalty jurisprudence. Normatively, emotions are central to why we punish, and denying or squelching them risks prompting vigilantism and other unhealthy outlets for this normal human reaction. The emotional case for the death penalty for child …


The 'Abuse Excuse' In Capital Sentencing Trials: Is It Relevant To Responsibility, Punishment, Or Neither?, Paul J. Litton Jul 2005

The 'Abuse Excuse' In Capital Sentencing Trials: Is It Relevant To Responsibility, Punishment, Or Neither?, Paul J. Litton

Faculty Publications

The violent criminal who was a victim of severe childhood abuse frequently appears in the responsibility literature because he presents a difficulty for theorists who maintain the compatibility of causal determinism and our practices of holding persons responsible. The challenge is based on the fact that learning about an offender's horrific childhood mitigates the indignation that many persons feel towards him, possibly indicating that they hold him less than fully responsible. Many capital defendants present evidence of suffering childhood abuse, and many jurors find this evidence to count against imposing death. The most obvious explanation for a response like this …


Expert Testimony In Capital Sentencing: Juror Responses, John H. Montgomery, J. Richard Ciccone, Stephen P. Garvey, Theodore Eisenberg Jan 2005

Expert Testimony In Capital Sentencing: Juror Responses, John H. Montgomery, J. Richard Ciccone, Stephen P. Garvey, Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Furman v. Georgia (1972), held that the death penalty is constitutional only when applied on an individualized basis. The resultant changes in the laws in death penalty states fostered the involvement of psychiatric and psychologic expert witnesses at the sentencing phase of the trial, to testify on two major issues: (1) the mitigating factor of a defendant’s abnormal mental state and (2) the aggravating factor of a defendant’s potential for future violence. This study was an exploration of the responses of capital jurors to psychiatric/psychologic expert testimony during capital sentencing. The Capital Jury Project is …


Atkins V. Virginia: A Psychiatric Can Of Worms, Douglas Mossman Md Jan 2003

Atkins V. Virginia: A Psychiatric Can Of Worms, Douglas Mossman Md

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

This article provides a psychiatric perspective on the problems Atkins raises for courts that handle death penalty cases. In contrast to the overarching aim of the majority's opinion in Atkins - making the administration of capital punishment more equitable - the Supreme Court's latest prescription of psychiatric help may only add a new layer of complexity and confusion to the already capricious process through which the U.S. criminal justice system imposes death sentences. The article briefly review's the Supreme Court's 1989 Penry decision, focusing on the role that evidence of mental retardation played in death penalty cases before Atkins was …


Speeding In Reverse: An Anecdotal View Of Why Victim Impact Testimony Should Not Be Driving Capital Prosecutions, Sheri Johnson Jan 2003

Speeding In Reverse: An Anecdotal View Of Why Victim Impact Testimony Should Not Be Driving Capital Prosecutions, Sheri Johnson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Capital Jury And Absolution: The Intersection Of Trial Strategy Remorse And The Death Penalty, Scott E. Sundby Jan 1998

Capital Jury And Absolution: The Intersection Of Trial Strategy Remorse And The Death Penalty, Scott E. Sundby

Articles

No abstract provided.


The Executioner’S Face Is Always Well-Hidden: The Role Of Counsel And The Courts In Determining Who Dies, Michael L. Perlin Jan 1996

The Executioner’S Face Is Always Well-Hidden: The Role Of Counsel And The Courts In Determining Who Dies, Michael L. Perlin

Articles & Chapters

No abstract provided.


Attitude-Behavior Correspondence? Why Susan Smith Was Spared, Aubrey Immelman Aug 1995

Attitude-Behavior Correspondence? Why Susan Smith Was Spared, Aubrey Immelman

Psychology Faculty Publications

This opinion column employs the Susan Smith homicide case to explore attitude-behavior correspondence. The article describes Richard LaPiere's (1934) landmark study "Attitudes vs. actions" published in the journal Social Forces and Leonard Bickman's (1972) study "Environmental attitudes and actions" published in the Journal of Social Psychology.


The Sanist Lives Of Jurors In Death Penalty Cases: The Puzzling Role Of Mitigating Mental Disability Evidence, Michael L. Perlin Jan 1994

The Sanist Lives Of Jurors In Death Penalty Cases: The Puzzling Role Of Mitigating Mental Disability Evidence, Michael L. Perlin

Articles & Chapters

No abstract provided.


Hardening Of The Attitudes: Americans' Views On The Death Penalty, Phoebe C. Ellsworth, Samuel R. Gross Jan 1994

Hardening Of The Attitudes: Americans' Views On The Death Penalty, Phoebe C. Ellsworth, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

American support for the death penalty has steadily increased since 1966, when opponents outnumbered supporters, and now in the mid-1990s is at a near record high. Research over the last 20 years has tended to confirm the hypothesis that most people’s death penalty attitudes (pro or con) are based on emotion rather than information or rational argument. People feel strongly about the death penalty, know little about it, and feel no need to know more. Factual information (e.g., about deterrence and discrimination) is generally irrelevant to people’s attitudes, and they are aware that this is so. Support for the death …


To Tell What We Know Or Wait For Godot?, Phoebe C. Ellsworth Jan 1991

To Tell What We Know Or Wait For Godot?, Phoebe C. Ellsworth

Articles

Professor Elliott raises two questions about the American Psychological Association's practice of submitting amicus briefs to the courts. First, are our data sufficiently valid, consistent, and generalizable to be applicable to the real world issues? Second, are amicus briefs adequate to communicate scientific findings? The first of these is not a general question, but must be addressed anew each time the Association considers a new issue. An evaluation of the quality and sufficiency of scientific knowledge about racial discrimination, for example, tells us nothing at all about the quality and sufficiency of scientific knowledge about sexual abuse. "Are the data …