Neuroimaging for the mitigation of capital offenses: does it help?
featuring Nicholas Scurich, PhD, and Joseph Wu, MD
Please join us for our Views By Two series, which pairs a Center researcher with a prestigious practitioner to discuss hot topics in the field of psychology and law. By providing both a researcher and practitioner viewpoint, we hope to start a dialogue that will bridge the gap between scientific research and policy.
This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
Date: November 6th, 2018
Some claim that neuroscience will revolutionize the way we think about free will and responsibility, necessitating a change in the way criminal law deals with culpability and punishment. An editorial in The Economist exemplifies this sentiment: “Genetics may yet threaten privacy, kill autonomy, make society homogeneous and gut the concept of human nature. But neuroscience could do all of these things first.” During this presentation, Dr. Joseph Wu will discuss his experience with neuroimaging evidence in court cases, particularly its effectiveness in persuading jurors in capital mitigation to vote against the death penalty. Despite the increasing use of neuroscience information in court cases, a large program of experimental research, conducted by Scurich and others, has tested this empirical claim and found virtually no support for it. Dr. Scurich will discuss the implications of these findings for criminal law and for researchers who seek to study law and psychology-related topics.
Dr. Joseph Wu is a Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Irvine Department of Psychiatry and the President of University Neurocognitive Imaging. He graduated from Stanford with honors as premed and went to medical school at University of the California Irvine. He was a founding faculty member of the UCI Forensic Neuropsychiatry Fellowship program and taught about forensic neuroimaging to UCI Psychiatric forensic fellows based at Patton State Hospital. He has published over sixty articles on brain imaging utilizing PET, MRI DTI and MRI quantitative volumetrics scans in depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s dementia, traumatic brain injury, carbon monoxide poisoning, Parkinson’s disease, and organic solvent encephalopathy. He has received funding from the NIH and NARSAD. He also served as a reviewer for the NIH and for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program and for various neuroimaging journals. He has been a coauthor of the neuroimaging chapter in one of the widely used textbooks in psychiatry. He has had coverage of his work by the NY times, ABC Good Morning News, AP. Discovery Channel. He has been an expert witness on PET and/or MRI DTI and /or quantitative volumetric imaging in courts on over 300 brain abnormality or injury cases in both civil and capital mitigation cases since 2003. He has been involved in a number of capital cases in which neuroimaging has been successfully used to help persuade jurors to not vote for death.
Dr. Nicholas Scurich is an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology & Social Behavior, and the Department Criminology, Law & Society. He earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Southern California in 2012, and was tenured 4 years later. Professor Scurich has published over 40 peer-review journal articles, book chapters, and law review articles on a variety of topics related to judgment and decision making in the law and violence risk assessment. His research has been funded by state and federal agencies, and he has received numerous scholarly awards, including the Saleem Shah award for early career excellence from the American Psychological Association (Division 41) and the American Academy of Forensic Psychology, as well as the distinction of “Rising Star” by the Association for Psychological Science (APS). Professor Scurich teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Psychology & Law, Forensic Psychology, and Advanced Research Methods.