American Judges Association


Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 50, Issue 2 (2014)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


The People of the State of New York v. Herbert Weinstein (1992)1 is one of the earliest and most prominent examples of an attorney offering a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan as evidence in a criminal trial. Mr. Weinstein, a 68-year-old, married, Caucasian male worked in advertising. Mr. Weinstein had no past criminal history and no history of violence, but he was accused of strangling his wife and throwing her body from their 12th-story Manhattan apartment to make her death appear to be a suicide. When confronted, Mr. Weinstein admitted his guilt and even readily admitted his attempts to cover up his crime.2 Mr. Weinstein’s lack of emotion when discussing the crime and apparent lack of remorse for his action caused his legal team to question whether the older gentleman could be suffering from a neurological impairment that caused an uncharacteristic act of aggression.3

Acts of aggression have been hypothesized to arise from dysfunction within the prefrontal cortex and impaired connections between the frontal lobe and associated limbic brain regions. Physicians consulting with Mr. Weinstein’s defense attorneys suggested Mr. Weinstein undergo neuropsychological testing and brain scanning that could demonstrate potential structural and/or functional deficits in his brain.4