The Daily Digest – 2/7/11

Brain Damage and Automobile Accidents: Daubert hearing

Amadio v. Glenn, 2011 WL 336721 (E.D.Pa. 2011)
Becoming increasingly more prevalent is the introduction of neurological evidence to substantiate what I call “invisible injuries.” These are injuries which previously were difficult to substantiate because they couldn’t be visualized by the jury. Neurological evidence to substantiate invisible injuries appears most frequently in automobile accident cases. In this case, the court held a Daubert hearing to assess whether the Plaintiff could introduce expert testimony that he suffered a traumatic brain injury during an automobile accident with defendant. The Defendants moved to exclude Plaintiff’s expert witness because the expert had not specified his method, process or technique in diagnosing the Plaintiff. The court permitted the testimony, finding it to be both qualified and reliable: The expert had reviewed the neuropsychological reports of other examining physicians, the extensive medical records submitted to him by plaintiffs’ counsel, and had examined the Plaintiff himself.

More IAC and Mitigation

Sims v. State, 2011 WL 334285 (Tenn.Crim.App. 2011)
Petitioner was found guilty of especially aggravated burglary and first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to death. He sought post-conviction relief claiming that he received ineffective assistance of capital counsel because they failed to secure the services of any psychological experts to examine the petitioner and perform the neurological testing necessary to uncover substantial evidence that could have been used both during the guilt phase to negate the specific intent required for first degree premeditated murder and during the penalty phase as mitigation. The experts called during the post-conviction hearing testified that the petitioner had deficits in the left hemisphere and frontal lobe of his brain, and that these impairments “would have contributed … to his behavior at the time of the offense,” and “behave impulsively” and rendered him unable to “weigh things properly” or to deliberate. The post-conviction court found that even if it were to find trial counsel deficient for failing to order neuropsychological testing, the petitioner could not establish prejudice. And that the neuropsychological evaluation provided merely speculative evidence, but did not show that the petitioner committed the murder under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance or that the petitioner’s capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law was substantially impaired as a result of mental disease or defect. Because the petitioner has not met the standard of proving ineffective assistance of counsel, he was not entitled to relief on this issue. Affirmed on appeal.

About Nita A. Farahany

Professor of Law and Philosophy, Professor of Genome Sciences and Policy
This entry was posted in Civil, Criminal, Neuroscience and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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