Psychology – Neuroscience / Witchcraft in the Courtroom

If this perversion of pseudoscience doesn’t scare us, what will? The neurobasterdization of the “justice system” by quackery is Eugenic activity. This “tactic” is easily “flipped” to prove someone’s guilt using neuro-psychic nonsense…

“My Brain Made Me Do It” Is Becoming a More Common Criminal Defense

Ethicists and scientists are considering the place of neuroscience in the courtroom

After Richard Hodges pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and residential burglary, he appeared somewhat dazed and kept asking questions that had nothing to do with the plea process. That’s when the judge ordered that Hodges undergo a neuropsychological examination and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) testing. Yet no irregularities turned up.

Hodges, experts concluded, was faking it. His guilty plea would stand.

But experts looking back at the 2007 case now say Hodges was part of a burgeoning trend: Criminal defense strategies are increasingly relying on neurological evidence—psychological evaluations, behavioral tests or brain scans(might as well cast tarot cards or read chicken entrails) to potentially mitigate punishment. Defendants may cite earlier head traumas or brain disorders as underlying reasons for their behavior, hoping this will be factored into a court’s decisions. Such defenses have been employed for decades, mostly in death penalty cases. But as science has evolved in recent years, the practice has become more common in criminal cases ranging from drug offenses to robberies. (Which “science” has evolved – psychology and it’s perverted minion neuroscience? There is NO PREDICTIVE component in psychology-psychiatry; both fail over and over again to predict human behavior. Example: pre-identify mass shooters? Total failure.)

“The number of cases in which people try to introduce neurotechnological evidence in the trial or sentencing phase has gone up by leaps and bounds,” says Joshua Sanes, director of the Center for Brain Science at Harvard University. But such attempts may be outpacing the scientific evidence behind the technology, he adds. (That is, LACK OF EVIDENCE for the accuracy of quackery)

“In 2012 alone over 250 judicial opinions—more than double the number in 2007—cited defendants arguing in some form or another that their ‘brains made them do it,’” according to an analysis by Nita Farahany, a law professor and director of Duke University’s Initiative for Science and Society. More recently, she says, that number has climbed to around 420 each year.

Even when lawyers do not bring neuroscience into the courtroom, this shift can still affect a case: Some defendants are now using the omission of neuroscience as grounds for questioning the competency of the defenses they received. In a bid to untangle the issue, Sanes, Farahany and other members of a committee of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine are meeting in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to discuss what they have dubbed “neuroforensics.”

“The meeting is largely future-oriented, and focused not so much on law enforcement use, but on admissibility in court,” Steven Hyman, co-chair of the committee and director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute, wrote in an e-mail to Scientific American. The gathering will likely dive into a variety of questions about how neuroscience and genetics should be used in the courtroom—including how brain scans indicating the presence of pain should be used in assessing disability benefits, and when someone’s biology can explain behavior.Another controversial discussion point will be recent proof-of-concept work on how pictures of what’s happening in the brain—functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) or an EEG test (which captures electrical brain activity)—could be coupled with computer algorithms to eventually reconstruct what a person saw or to capture other aspects of human perception. (OMG! This invasion of the individual brain by technology is an imminent threat to human rights, and is EUGENIC in concept and aims. This progression of neuro-tyranny destroys the primacy and validity of FACTS in making judgements of guilt or innocence, and preempts personal choice of ethical and moral values, diversity of perception and action and indeed the right of the individual to exist as an independent living entity. It is the culmination of the claim that the “state” OWNS ITS CITIZENS and can do whatever it likes to “fix them”)

The committee will also be talking about the role of genetics in the courtroom—a trend that may be declining, even as neuroscience takes a more prominent role in criminal cases. In 2013 there were 18 cases in which judicial opinions mentioned genetics; in 2014 there were only 10 and in 2015 the number dropped to seven, according to an unpublished review by Farahany. “There may have been more attempts than this that simply aren’t discussed [in judicial decisions], but if they have relevance to the outcome in the case, then they would have been discussed,” she says. Farahany believes the drop is due to the fact that science linking certain genetic mutations with criminal tendencies has simply not panned out, even as scientists continue to uncover more detail about how our brains influence our behavior. (BS)


FADS and quackery in the judicial system, cont.

Note that the same process of bogus forensic legitimatization outlined in this article is being used to “admit” brain scans, MRIs, EEGs, and other neuro-psychic “tea leaf readings” into court proceedings as “scientific evidence”.

It literally started with a witch hunt: A history of bite mark evidence

February 17, 2015 This is part two in a four-part series. Read part one here.
On May 4, 1692, the Rev. George Burroughs was arrested in Salem, Massachusetts on suspicion of witchcraft. The only physical evidence against Burroughs were bite marks found on some of the girls he was accused of recruiting to join him. Summarizing the research of historians on the ordeal in an article for the February 2014 newsletter of the New York State Dental Association, William James Maloney writes that at trial, “the defendant’s mouth was pried open and the prosecution compared his teeth with the teeth marks left on the bodies of several injured girls present in the courtroom.”At the urging of notorious witch hunter Cotton Mather, Burroughs was convicted, sentenced to death and hanged. Two months later, the governor of Massachusetts called for an end to the witchcraft trials. He also prohibited the use of “spectral and intangible evidence” in criminal trials. Two decades later, Burroughs was declared innocent, and the colony of Massachusetts compensated his children for their father’s wrongful execution.Nearly three hundred years later, in 1974, Walter Edgar Marx was convicted of voluntary manslaughter due in part to bite marks found on the nose of his alleged victim.
The marks were found during an exhumation of the victim’s body more than six weeks after she had been autopsied, embalmed and buried. Three dentists testified for the state that they could match an impression made of the marks to Marx’s teeth. In 1975, a California appeals court upheld the conviction. That ruling has become enormously influential. In a 2000 article for the Albany Law Review, Seton Hall law professor and evidence expert Michael Risinger wrote that the Marx ruling “came to be read as a global warrant” for courts to admit bite mark evidence.
The Marx case effectively went around the prevailing standard for admitting forensic evidence: the 1923 case Frye v. United States, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected testimony from a polygraph instructor who claimed that a rise in systolic blood pressure indicated that a suspect was lying. The appeals court ruled that in order to be admissible in federal court, scientific evidence or testimony must have “gained general acceptance in the particular field in which it belongs.” (Yes, have the quacks judge their own quackery)
For the next 70 years, Frye was the model in federal court, and was subsequently adopted by nearly every state in the country. (The Supreme Court didn’t address the standard until 1993, with three rulings now known as the Daubert cases. The Daubert standard instructs judges to assess both the relevance of expert testimony and whether the testimony itself is reliable.) In Marx, the judges actually accepted that there was no scientific research to support bite mark matching. There is “no established science of identifying persons from bite marks” and “no evidence of systemic, orderly experimentation in the area,” the court wrote. (Does this not indicate that some percentage of Judges are not qualified to evaluate what constitutes legitimate evidence? Who are these scientifically illiterate people and how did they “get” such an important job?)

But the judges’ reasoning then took a peculiar turn. Because there was no science to analyze, the court declined to hold a Frye hearing. Instead, the judges simply invented their own test for evidence that wasn’t scientific, but was nevertheless presented with a science-like veneer.

They found that because the trial judge saw the bite mark evidence and concurred that it seemed sound, that was good enough for them. !!!!!!!!!

(Marx was convicted at a bench trial, not a jury trial.) The appeals court judges wrote that the evidence was admissible because to not admit it would be to “abandon common sense.” (Demonstrating that NTs don’t know what “common sense is.”)

Three years later, another California appeals court relied on Marx to uphold bite mark evidence again . Bizarrely, that court explicitly referenced the “superior trustworthiness of the scientific bitemark approach,” despite the fact that the Marx opinion specifically acknowledged a lack of scientific research in support of the practice. From there, bite mark evidence began to get accepted simply by virtue of the fact that it had been accepted in other courts in previous cases. Thus began an established record of precedents. It also began an established record of wrongful convictions.

Bite mark matching then gained national notoriety in 1979 during the trial of serial killer Ted Bundy. The high profile nature of the case, the brutality of the crime and Bundy’s obvious guilt cast a public image of bite mark analysis as an emerging science that could put away serial killers and sex offenders, and the analysts themselves as heroic scientists who help put dangerous people behind bars. One of the analysts who testified in Bundy’s case was Lowell Levine. Bundy’s conviction launched Levine’s career. He became one of the most visible bite mark evangelists in the United States. In 1977, he wrote that a bite mark match “is as good as a fingerprint. It was 20 years later that Levine’s analysis would lead to the wrongful arrest of Edmund Burke discussed in part one of this series.

Levine later served terms as president of both the American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO) and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), and became one of just a few dentists to make a full-time career of bite mark analysis. In a 2011 interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Levine continued to defend bite mark analysis as “important and viable.” But when Cooper asked if there’s any way bite mark analysis can be reconciled with the scientific method, Levine replied with some candor: “I sure can’t think of it.” Yet Levine has testified countless times in court about his “level of scientific certainty” with respect to bite marks.

In a forthcoming law review article, Chris Fabricant of the Innocence Project and Tucker Carrington of the Mississippi Innocence Project look at how the Marx ruling affected bite mark admissibility. They found 16 court opinions from 12 states over the following 13 years after Marx that either relied on the decision, or adopted what Fabricant and Carrington call “the eyeball test.” All but three of those rulings noted the “scientific” nature of bite mark analysis, despite the fact that, again, not only is there no science to back up the claims of bite mark analysts, but the Marx decision explicitly acknowledges as much. One such ruling came in 1978 after the Arizona Supreme Court heard arguments to overturn a conviction based on bite mark testimony from Homer Richardson Campbell Jr., a ABFO-certified forensic odontologist. Campbell told the jury that that the odds of anyone other than the defendant leaving the marks he found on the victim’s breast were “eight on one million.” On cross examination, Campbell conceded that he didn’t compute those odds personally. Rather, they were a rough estimate of his memory of “articles written in the journals of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.” In truth, there was no scientific basis for his estimation whatsoever. The court nevertheless found his testimony admissible, and upheld the conviction.

In 1987, Campbell’s testimony helped convict Joe Sidney Williams of a rape and murder in Texas. Williams was exonerated by DNA testing in 2001. Campbell’s bite mark matching also helped convict David Wayne Spence for the 1984 murders of three teenagers near Lake Waco, Tex. In fact, his testimony was the only evidence linking Spence to the scene of the crime. During Spence’s appeal, his attorneys showed the crime scene photos Campbell used to make his match to five other ABFO-certified forensic odontologists, along with dental molds from five people, including Spence. Only two matched the photographed bite marks to any of the dental molds, and both matched them to the mold of an uninvolved patient of the dentist who ran the test. The lead homicide investigator in the case told New York Times columnist Bob Herbert in 1997, “’My opinion is that David Spence was innocent. Nothing from the investigation ever led us to any evidence that he was involved.” Spence was executed by the state of Texas in 1997.

Campbell, now deceased, would go on to become a prominent advocate for bite mark matching. He also served as president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

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