News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

CLBB Director of Law & Ethics to lead HMS Master’s Program in Bioethics

As of fall 2014, CLBB Director of Law & Ethics Rebecca W. Brendel, JD, MD, will join the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics to lead the development of a new Master’s Program in Bioethics. Originally established as the Division of Medical Ethics, The Center was rebranded in spring 2014 to serve as a convener for faculty who will collaborate with the ethics services at the HMS affiliates and with ethics programs at schools throughout Harvard University. Dr. Brendel will develop and then lead the new Master’s Program in Bioethics at HMS.

The Master of Bioethics Degree, beginning fall 2015, will combine resources from the Center for Bioethics, Harvard teaching hospitals, and departments across the University in a one-year full time course of study and is open to working professionals holding a terminal degree in any discipline. A core group of applicants is expected from medicine, law, nursing, public health, social work, public policy, scientific and biotechnology research, journalism, and business.

Rebecca W. Brendel

Dr. Brendel is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of Law & Ethics at CLBB. An expert consult-liaison psychiatrist and ethicist, Dr. Brendel has published widely on issues including voluntary psychiatric hospitalization (2014), evaluation of capacity to appoint a healthcare proxy (2013), and legal issues including mandatory reporting and informed consent (2010).

Dr. Brendel will be stepping down as Clinical Director of the Home Base Program — a collaboration of the Red Sox Foundation and MGH — in order to step into the new role at the Center for Bioethics.  Continue reading »

Pain Research Forum

The Pain Research Forum was launched in June 2011 to provide a place for members of the international pain research community to engage in an open exchange of information and ideas. The ultimate goal of the Pain Research Forum is to foster discussion and collaboration that will speed the acquisition of new knowledge and its translation into novel treatments for chronic and neuropathic pain.

All news and discussion content, research resources and member services are provided free to researchers, clinicians and others interested in the problem of chronic pain. Visit Classic Papers, Pain 101, Forums, and Webinars to learn more about pain.

Explore the Pain Research Forum website here.

Oklahoma Sued for Drawing the Blinds on Botched Execution

By Erin Dooley | ABC News | August 25, 2014

Prompted by the botched execution of Oklahoma death row inmate Clayton Lockett, the ACLU today filed a lawsuit alleging that state prison officials violated reporters’ First Amendment rights when they drew the shade nearly 30 minutes before Lockett’s death.

Clayton Lockett, 38.

Clayton Lockett, age 38.

“Because of the State’s use of the viewing shade … the press and public received only government-edited access to an important government proceeding,” the suit asserts.

Lockett, 38, who was writhing on his gurney, “appeared to be in pain” before the blinds were drawn, the petition says. Afterward, sounds from inside the chamber “indicated pain and suffering,” but journalists were “deprived of the opportunity to verify the nature and source of the sounds.” Continue reading »

The Adolescent Brain: What Lawyers and Parents Must Know

On Sunday, August 10, 2014, at the Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association (ABA), the ABA Commission on Youth at Risk presented an important panel to frontline legal practitioners on the latest research and legal developments related to the adolescents offenders. The forum addressed the following questions:

  • What is reasonable juvenile behavior under the law?
  • What does research tell us about teens’ brains and how it influences their behavior?
  • How is a young person affected long term when the legal system harshly treats and places stigmatizing labels on him or her?
  • How do we ensure the legal system does not further traumatize or inappropriately punish juveniles who enter the courts?

Continue reading »

Massachusetts high court to hear eyewitness ID cases

By Denise Lavoie | The Associated Press | August 25, 2014

Zachary Sevigny was slashed with a box cutter by a stranger outside a convenience store in 2011.

Neither Sevigny nor his friend identified Jeremy Gomes as the attacker when shown his picture in a police photo array. But a week later, they saw Gomes inside a Pittsfield gas station and told police he was the culprit.

Gomes was found guilty of the attack, but his lawyer is challenging his conviction based on what he says were unreliable eyewitness identifications.

That challenge is one of four cases seeking changes in the way eyewitness identification testimony is presented to juries. The cases are set to be heard by the highest court in Massachusetts next month. Defense attorneys are pushing the court to adopt stronger instructions to advise jurors that eyewitness identifications are not always reliable. Continue reading »