Saturday, June 5, 2010
This chapter argues that a right of mental control prohibits the state either from extracting a suspect’s thoughts without her meaningful consent or from making use of a suspect’s compelled recall or recognition to lay criminal blame upon her. Existing accounts of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination are ill-equipped to address the doctrinal implications of safe and reliable forensic neuroscience. Brain imaging is importantly different, for Fifth Amendment purposes, from all other forms of evidence, because it enables state officials to obtain information directly from a suspect’s brain, in a way that affords her no opportunity to control the transmission of that information. The physical/testimonial distinction in right-to-silence jurisprudence presupposes a flawed conception of mind/body dualism. Exposing this dualism reveals that the normative significance we confer to a suspect’s control over his thoughts against unwanted use by the government. The use of compelled neuroscientific evidence is illegitimate when it deprives the accused of control over her mental life. Prosecutors may not comment on a suspect’s decision to decline the testing, and judges should instruct jurors not to draw adverse inferences from a choice to decline testing. Instructions against drawing adverse inferences are likely to be effective, however, only if jurors come to recognize legitimate reasons to decline testing.