CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Psychopathy and Mitigation in a Capital Case

Steve Erickson at Crime and Consequences has this interesting post, commenting on this post by Kelly Lowenberg. In the case under consideration,

The defense argued that Dugan suffers from psychopathy, a psychiatric disorder typified by antisocial behavior, impulsivity, and lack of remorse, which made it difficult for him to control his behavior. As a result, the defense argued, Dugan is less culpable for his criminal behavior, and his disorder should be considered a mitigating factor. Kiehl testified that based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) tests and a diagnostic checklist, Dugan showed abnormal brain functioning and responses similar to other psychopaths Kiehl has tested. Although data from other brain imaging techniques, such as PET and SPECT, have been used in court previously, Kiehl’s testimony may be the first instance in which fMRI data was admitted in a criminal case.

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