Fit to Stand Trial?

Tomorrow, Jared Loughner’s competency hearing will take place to determine if he’s mentally fit to stand trial for the shootings of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others.  Despite stories of troubled behavior at his university and an eerily maniacal mugshot, the burden of proof falls to his defense lawyers to prove that he was not responsible for his actions due to legal insanity.

For a great overview of personal responsibility and the law, and how advances in neuroscience may help defense attorneys representing mentally ill clients, read the Dana Foundation’s new briefing paper, “Will Neuroscience Challenge the Legal Concept of Criminal Responsibility?” The paper features representatives from the legal and neuroscience communities, including Dana Alliance members Michael Gazzaniga and Martha Farah (both active in neuroethics).

–Ann L. Whitman

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