News and Commentary Archive

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


The Center for Law, Brain & Behavior puts the most accurate and actionable neuroscience in the hands of judges, lawyers, policymakers and journalists—people who shape the standards and practices of our legal system and affect its impact on people’s lives. We work to make the legal system more effective and more just for all those affected by the law.

The Criminalization of Addiction: Law, Medicine, and Future Directions: Is Compassion Consistent with Accountability?

 March 31, 2022, 12:00 PM

image of statue holding scale of justice

View Recording Here

Event Description

In Commonwealth v. Eldred, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that a court may order a defendant who is addicted to substances to remain drug free as a condition of probation and that if a defendant tests positive for an illegal substance, the defendant may be found in violation of his or her probation. Join us for a discussion of this important case. Attorney Lisa Newman-Polk, who litigated Eldred, will discuss the legal landscape regarding criminalization of addiction. Dr. Alexander Walley will contextualize substance use disorder as a medical illness. Dr. Stephanie Tabashneck will then lead a discussion on the implications of criminalizing substance use disorder.


  • Introduction: Carmel Shachar, Executive Director, Petrie-Flom Center
  • Lisa Newman-Polk, lawyer and licensed certified social worker
  • Alexander Walley,  Professor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine; Director, Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program; Co-Director, Fellow Immersion Training Program in Addiction Medicine; Associate Director, Faster Paths to Treatment Addiction Urgent Care Clinic; and Medical Director, Opioid Overdose Prevention Pilot Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • Stephanie Tabashneck, PsyD, JD, Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience, CLBB and the Petrie-Flom Center

This event is part of the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, a collaboration between the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. 

Neuroscience in the Service of Justice

The BSNNP is happy to have Judith Edersheim JD, MD and Robert Kinscherff PhD, JD of The Center for Law, Brain & Behavior presenting a lecture entitled:

“Neuroscience in the Service of Justice”.

Thurs. February 10th, 2022



Sponsored by the Boston Society of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, Co-Sponsored by the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior

Dr. Judith Edersheim is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and an attending Psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Edersheim has performed a wide variety of forensic evaluations in both civil and criminal settings, including evaluations of competencies to stand trial, testamentary capacity, the capacity to make medical decisions, fitness for duty, the assessment of emotional damages, diminished capacity and criminal responsibility. Dr. Edersheim’s research interest is in the translation of psychiatric and neurologic behavior into legal settings. She has published articles regarding the intersection of legal and medical concepts in peer reviewed medical journals such as the Journal of the American Academy of Law and Psychiatry and The Clinical Companion to the Journal of Primary Care and in legal journals such as the Massachusetts Family Law Journal. She has been a featured speaker locally, regionally and nationally regarding issues pertaining to neuroscience, psychiatry and the law.

Dr. Robert Kinscherff is a clinical/forensic psychologist and attorney who currently serves as Executive Director of the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He has been affiliated with CLBB for ten years and prior to taking this position he had served for three years as the Associate Managing Director of CLBB’s Juvenile and Young Adult Justice Project, and was the 2015 – 2017 Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience for CLBB and the Petrie Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. Other service has included membership in governmental commissions and working groups on sexual offenders, juvenile homicide, medical care in correctional settings, and persons with severe and persistent mental illness and/or developmental or intellectual disabilities in juvenile and adult justice systems. For over a decade, Dr. Kinscherff served on the MA Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee. His research and practice areas include juvenile and adult offenders, post-Miller resentencing and parole cases, expert testimony, violence risk assessment and management, law and policy in justice system reforms, gun violence policy, and the impact of adversities, resiliencies, and social determinants in child, adolescent, and young adult development. He has published widely, teaches and consults nationally and internationally, is involved in state and federal legislative education and advocacy, and provides trial and appellate judicial education on the implications of developmental neuroscience for law and public policy.