Browse By:

Clear Filters x

Volume 109 - Issue 1


Motus Animi in Mente Insana: An Emotion-Oriented Paradigm of Legal Insanity Informed by the Neuroscience of Moral Judgments and Decision-Making

Coppola, Federica | March 29, 2019

Legal insanity is deeply rooted in an intellectualistic conception of the capacity for moral rationality. The vast majority of insanity standards essentially consider the integrity of the defendant’s cognitive faculties at the time of the offense. However, the cognitivist model of legal insanity collides with the body of neuroscientific and behavioral literature about the critical role of emotions in moral judgments and decision-making processes. Drawing upon this scientific knowledge, this Article reforms the intellectualistic substance of the capacity for moral rationality that underlies the insanity doctrine by including emotions in its relevant psychological set. Hence, it provides a revised model of legal insanity, one that gives more prominence to individuals’ emotional faculties in relation to the crime committed. The analysis highlights that the legal reconsideration of the role of emotions within the capacity for moral rationality turns the insanity defense into a tripartite, more dimensional test—one inclusive of emotional, cognitive, and volitional prongs. Normative arguments in support of the proposed alternative paradigm of legal insanity are illustrated and discussed.


Coerced Fate: How Negotiation Models Lead to False Confessions

Janzen, Kiera | March 29, 2019

Police interrogators across the United States employ tactics that can lead to coerced, often false, confessions. While police departments have shifted away from physically coercive methods of interrogation, psychologically coercive practices that utilize deceit have taken their place. The reliability of confession evidence becomes a significant concern when interrogators elicit confessions using these techniques. Further demonstrating the need for change in this realm, false confessions and wrongful convictions place a financial burden on cities and taxpayers, who foot the bill for settlements and damages resulting from these cases. The current legal framework in the U.S. permits—by failing to explicitly prohibit—these tactics, and police departments across the nation implement and encourage officers to use them. The psychologically coercive methods that police employ in interrogations share elements with methods that parties often use in negotiations. To analyze why interrogators engage in these practices and why they are successful in eliciting confessions, this Comment examines psychologically coerced confessions under the frameworks of three commonly used negotiation models: 1) the position-based model, 2) the interest-based model, and 3) the core concerns model. This analysis illustrates the need for systemic change to the laws applicable to police interrogations, the widely used methods of interrogation, and the inter-departmental practices that perpetuate coercive tactics. Specifically, this Comment suggests a cross-institutional approach to reform in which lawmakers enact legislation that sets standards for interrogations, judges prohibit evidence elicited through psychologically coercive tactics, and police departments overhaul their interrogation practices and hold officers accountable when they engage in psychologically coercive techniques.

A Guiding Hand or a Slap on the Wrist: Can Drug Courts be the Solution to Maternal Opioid Use?

O'Connor, Cara | March 29, 2019

As the opioid epidemic has expanded its reach, the number of pregnant women addicted to opioids has increased exponentially in recent years. The increase in the number of opioid-addicted pregnant women has resulted in a drastic expansion in the number of newborns who experience Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Newborns affected with NAS experience painful withdrawal and cost more to care for due to their increased health needs. In an effort to address the growing number of pregnant women using opioids and babies born with NAS, some states have turned to the criminal justice system. Three states–Tennessee, South Carolina, and Alabama–have criminalized maternal drug use, either through construction of a new statute or by using existing statutes for this purpose, which has been upheld in their courts. Although high courts in many other states have continuously determined that such prosecutions are unlawful, women across the United States continue to face criminal charges for their substance use while pregnant. This Comment addresses the concerns opioid addicted pregnant women pose to the criminal justice system and argues that drug courts are a crucial component to comprehensive reform. The drug court system needs to follow the lead of a recently established drug court in Buffalo, New York and embrace necessary reforms to better serve the health needs of pregnant women struggling with opioid addiction. This Comment argues the following reforms are necessary to effectively adjudicate cases involving pregnant drug use: expedited proceedings to begin treatment and avoid jailing; access to medication-assisted treatment; allowing women to spend time with their newborns; an appropriate sanctions system that recognizes the medical reality of relapse; and funding considerations that prevent women from having to pay for treatment. If drug courts are part of a comprehensive solution to treatment for opioid addiction, these reforms can contribute to better meeting the health care needs of women and their children.