Forensic Neuropsychological Assessment and Death Penalty Litigation The Champion, April, 2009

… The state attorney prosecuting a capital case will emphasize terms such as “inherent evil,” “psychopath,” “predator,” and “abuse is no excuse” while deeming irrelevant alternative explanations of human behavior other than freewill. The prosecutor will not acknowledge that human behavior is deterministic in nature and based on biopsychosocial interactions within one’s life. The capital defense attorney must combat the state’s narrow and simplistic view of human behavior by educating the jury through their expert about relevant mitigating evidence applicable to the defendant’s life history and level of functioning. Frequently present in capital cases, and germane to the theme of this article, there will be a significant history of neuropathology/dysfunction (cognitive impairment) that needs to be examined by a forensic mental health professional and presented to the jury. …