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Morse Studies Links in Brain, Behavior and Crime
BY AISHA MOHAMMED
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FACULTY NEWS FLASH
MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Morse cautions against “brain overclaim syndrome” in which proponents of neuroscience make legal or moral claims that are not confirmed by the research, either because the science is irrelevant as in Roper v. Simmons, or “not good enough” as in the case of Peter Braunstein.

Peter Braunstein, a frustrated fashion writer, set two small fires in the lobby of his victim’s apartment building in New York. Posing as a firefighter, he asked to enter the woman’s apartment to inspect for fire damage. After she let him in, he drugged and molested her for 13 hours. During his trial, defense lawyers argued Braunstein was incapable of intent because he suffered from a brain disorder. There are “no valid neural markers for the formation of intent or mental illness,” said Morse, so it was not possible to prove that he did not act intentionally or was incapable of reason. The jury convicted Braunstein of sexual assault.

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