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遗传基因介入刑事案件引发激烈争议

更新时间:2018-6-24 10:51:04 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The controversial debut of genes in criminal cases
遗传基因介入刑事案件引发激烈争议

After 11 hours of deliberation, the jury had reached a decision: voluntary manslaughter, not murder. Others in the courtroom were astonished. “I was just flabbergasted. I did not know how to react to it,” prosecuting attorney Drew Robinson said later in an interview with NPR.

11个小时的审议过后,陪审团做出的裁决是故意误杀罪,而非谋杀罪。法庭上其他听审人都很震惊。公诉检察官罗宾逊(Drew Robinson)随后在接受NPR(美国国家公共电台)的采访时说:“我大吃一惊,一时不知该如何回应。”

It had looked like an open and shut case. Following a dispute, Bradley Waldroup shot his wife’s friend eight times. Then he attacked his wife with a machete. His wife survived. Her friend did not.

这个案件看起来一目了然,应无争议。争吵过后,沃尔德鲁普(Bradley Waldroup)朝妻子的朋友开了8枪,接着他又用砍刀砍伤自己的妻子。所幸他的妻子逃得一命,而他妻子的朋友却没这么幸运了。

Waldroup admitted responsibility for the crimes; prosecutors in Tennessee charged him with murder and attempted first-degree murder. If guilty, a death sentence looked likely.

沃尔德鲁普对自己的罪行供认不讳,田纳西州的公诉检察官指控他犯有谋杀以及蓄意谋杀的一级谋杀罪。如果判定有罪,足以判处死刑。

But then his defence team decided to ask for a scientific assessment. It turned out that Waldroup had an unusual variant of the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene – dubbed the “warrior gene” by some in the media because of its association with antisocial behaviour including impulsive aggression. A forensic scientist testified that Waldroup’s genetic makeup, combined with the abuse he had experienced as a child, left him at greater risk of violent behaviour.

但是他的辩护团队请求进行科学评估。结果表明,沃尔德鲁普有着单胺氧化酶A(MAOA)的不寻常基因变体——一些媒体人士称之为“战士基因”,因为这种暴力基因与反社会行为(包括冲动性攻击行为)相关。法医科学家证明沃尔德鲁普有这种暴力基因,再加上他幼年遭受过虐待,才因此激发了他的暴力行为倾向。

To many outside observers, it seemed that this evidence played a significant part in Waldroup's case. This perception was compounded after some on the jury said later that the genetics influenced their decision to find Waldroup guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder. “A bad gene is a bad gene,” one juror told NPR. The full picture, however, may have been more complicated.

对于许多局外人来说,基因证据似乎在沃尔德鲁普的案件判决中起了重要作用。这种看法随后变得更加复杂,因为一些陪审员表示,是基因证据影响他们裁决沃尔德鲁普犯有故意误杀罪而非谋杀罪。一位陪审员告诉NPR 记者说,“一个坏基因就是一个坏基因”。但是,整个案件却远比此复杂。

Waldroup’s is one of several high-profile cases in which genetic or neuroscientific evidence (a brain scan, for instance) seems, on the surface, to have proved influential in court. Researchers have expressed concerns about the trend – particularly as the science is still relatively new and untested, arguing it is potentially vulnerable to being misused in the criminal justice system. But a number of studies suggest that the reality is more nuanced. What do we know about how judges and juries assess scientific evidence like genetics in court? And is it really as influential as some believe?

沃尔德鲁普的案件是基因或神经科学证据(如脑部扫描)表面上似乎影响了法庭判决的几个备受瞩目的案件之一。研究人员对这一趋势表示担忧——尤其是因为神经科学是项缺乏验证的新近科学,认为它很容易被误用于刑事司法系统。但是一些研究表明,实际情况可能有更多的细微差别。我们对法官和陪审团如何在法庭上评估基因等科学证据究竟有多少了解?基因是否真如很多人说的那样对法庭判决有重要影响?

Of course, generally speaking, it is difficult to know what influences a certain criminal sentence. What happens in court stays in court. Published records of proceedings are often incomplete. Even cases that are written up in detail are unlikely to reveal the effect that any one piece of evidence – including a genetic or neuroscientific diagnosis – has on the judge or jury.

当然,一般情况下很难知道某宗案子的判刑受什么因素影响。法庭上发生的事情只会留在法庭,而对外公布的诉讼记录往往不完整。即使是详细记载的案件也不可能揭示任何一项证据(包括基因或神经科学诊断)对法官或陪审团的影响。

“These cases are extremely complicated. So many factors are involved,” says Deborah Denno, a professor of law at Fordham University in New York City. “The neuroscience is one of perhaps 50 variables introduced to the jury on behalf of the defendant.”

纽约市福德汉姆大学法学教授迪诺(Deborah Denno)说,“这些案件非常复杂,涉及的因素太多了,神经科学只是辩护律师提供给陪审团的50个变数之一。”

Genetic evidence would seem to have made a difference in Waldroup’s case. But even here, the NPR interviews with jurors suggested there was more going on. One juror said she was “sure” the genes had been a factor in the voluntary manslaughter verdict – but added that Waldroup’s upbringing had figured in the jury’s decision too. It’s therefore hard to say what role the genetic evidence played.

基因证据似乎对沃尔德鲁普的案件的判决起到一定作用。但即使是这样,透过NPR(国家公共电台)对陪审员的采访显示还另有很多因素。一名陪审员说,她“确信”基因是判处故意杀人罪的一个因素——但她同时也补充说,沃尔德鲁普的成长过程也影响了陪审团的判决。因此也很难说明基因证据对这起案件的判决起了多大的作用。

Genetic and neuroscientific evidence is typically introduced in conjunction with other factors – the abuse a defendant suffered as a child, for example, or their family history of social problems. So it’s essentially impossible to know whether it’s uniquely decisive during deliberation. “We really don’t know how people are making their decisions,” says Denno. The jurors themselves may not even know, she adds.

基因和神经科学证据通常也伴随一些其他因素——如被告在幼年时期曾遭受虐待,或者他们的家庭有长期社交障碍历史等。因此,想要弄清楚基因和神经科学证据在审判过程中是否具有独特的决定性作用几乎是不可能的。迪诺说:“我们真的不能确定法官和陪审团是如何做出决定的,甚至陪审员本人可能也不知道。”

Virtual jurors

模拟陪审团

Since the courtroom itself is such a difficult environment in which to study the specific effects of genetic or neuroscientific evidence, some researchers are taking a different approach. They have begun taking criminal cases out of the courtroom and into the lab.

由于很难使用法庭本身来研究基因或神经科学证据如何影响判案,一些研究人员另辟蹊径。他们将刑事案件的裁决从法庭搬进了实验室。

Nicholas Scurich at the University of California, Irvine and Paul Appelbaum at Columbia University asked 640 volunteers representative of the US population to act as virtual jurors. Each ‘juror’ had to decide which sentence to recommend for assault with a deadly weapon.

美国加州大学欧文分校的斯库利克(Nicholas Scurich)和哥伦比亚大学的阿佩尔鲍姆(Paul Appelbaum)邀请640位美国志愿者代表美国普罗大众模拟陪审员。每个“陪审员”都必须对使用致命武器攻击他人罪行给出他建议的量刑。

Scurich and Appelbaum tweaked several variables presented to the virtual jurors: whether the defendant was a juvenile or an adult, the assault’s severity, and the defence attorney’s explanation for the assault – whether, for instance, the defendant had a genetic makeup thought to predispose them to impulsive behaviour.

斯库利克和阿佩尔鲍姆为模拟陪审员稍微调整了几个变数:被告人是未成年还是成年;攻击的严重程度;以及辩护律师对攻击的解释——如被告是否有冲动性攻击行为的基因等。

The ‘jurors’ suggested significantly shorter sentences if the defendant was a juvenile, or if the assault was less severe. But the genetic explanations for the defendant’s behaviour made no difference to sentence lengths.

如果被告人是未成年人,或者如果攻击程度不严重,“陪审员”建议减轻刑期。但通过基因解释被告人的行为却不会影响刑期的长短。

Real courtrooms may not be typically swayed by neuroscientific evidence, either. Paul Catley and Lisa Claydon at the UK’s Open University looked at 84 appeals against convictions heard by courts in England and Wales that featured neuroscientific evidence. They concluded that only 22 of those appeals were successful, apparently because of the neuroscientific evidence. More than twice as many of the appeals – 59 – were unsuccessful even with neuroscientific evidence.

在真实的法庭上,神经科学证据或许也起不到很大作用。英国公开大学的卡特利(Paul Catley)和克莱登(Lisa Claydon)研究了根据神经科学证据向英格兰和威尔士法院提出的84项上诉案子。他们发现,因为提供了神经科学证据上诉成功的只有22起,但上诉失败的多达59宗,是上诉成功的两倍多。

Denno isn’t surprised by these findings. She has studied hundreds of US court cases in which neuroscientific evidence was presented in court. “I’ve never been able to conclude, even after 800 cases, that the neuroscience makes a difference,” she says.

迪诺对这些发现并不感到惊讶。她研究了数百例神经科学证据被上呈法庭的美国法院案件。她说:“尽管研究了800个案件,我还是没有得出结论证明神经科学对法庭判决起多大作用。”

We can only speculate about why that might be the case. Last year, Scurich and Appelbaum suggested the intricacies of the scientific evidence might seem so incomprehensible to the average person that they simply ignore this kind of evidence when they sit on a jury.

我们只能推测为什么存在这种情况。去年,斯库利克和阿佩尔鲍姆提出,科学证据的复杂性对普通人来说似乎太难理解,以至于他们在陪审时完全忽略了这种证据。

James Tabery, a professor of philosophy at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, has a different explanation. He thinks most people may struggle to believe the scientific evidence. For instance, it might simply seem too implausible that something as tangible as our behaviour can be explained by something as intangible as our genes.

盐湖城犹他大学的哲学教授泰伯利(James Tabery)对此有另一番看法。他认为大多数人可能很难相信科学证据,打个比方,我们的行为是实在可见的,用基因等无形的东西来解释我们的行为似乎太不合情理了。

'Neutralising effect'

“中和效应”

There’s an alternative. It’s possible that genetic evidence really does affect sentencing – but it may simultaneously pull the decision in opposite directions, cancelling itself out.

还有一种可能,基因证据确实可能影响量刑——但与此同时也可能把判决推向相反的方向,从而失效。

Here’s why. If a judge or juror is told that an underlying genetic or neurological explanation partly accounts for a defendant’s behaviour, they may decide that a lighter sentence is justified because the defendant is at the mercy of their biology. But the judge or juror then might also decide a more severe sentence is required to keep the defendant off the streets – their biology makes them likely to reoffend.

原因如下,如果法官或陪审员被告知潜在的基因或神经学证据是被告犯罪部分原因,被告会判处较轻的徒刑是可理解的,因为被告是受自己的基因摆布无可选择。但是法官或陪审员也可能会为了消除被告判刑太轻出狱后对社会的危害而判处他们较重的刑期——因为他们的基因很可能让他们再次犯罪。

Tabery thinks this neutralising effect might happen some of the time.

泰伯利认为这种中和效应可能时不时会发生。

But he says that there are some situations in which the balance between the two factors can shift, meaning scientific evidence actually hurts the defendant.

但他表示,在某些情况下,两种因素的效应会相互冲淡,也就意味着科学证据实际上会对被告不利。

In 2012 he and his colleagues published a study similar to that of Scurich and Appelbaum. The starting point was a hypothetical scenario in which a man diagnosed with psychopathy had been found guilty of a severe assault. Tabery’s team then asked 181 US state trial court judges to decide on an appropriate sentence.

2012年,他和他的同事发表了一项类似于斯库利克和阿佩尔鲍姆的研究。研究起点是假设一个情景,一名确诊患有精神病的男子被裁定严重侵犯罪成立。然后,泰伯利的团队要求181名美国州立法庭法官给出适当的判决。

During their careers, the judges had dealt with many real cases of severe assault. From the information they gave to the researchers about these cases, it seems that they gave the crime a sentence of about nine years on average. But they gave the psychopathic ‘defendant’ a significantly longer sentence: almost 14 years. This figure dropped to roughly 13 years for a subset of judges who were given an explanation for the psychopathy diagnosis, linking the condition to unusual brain function tied to activity of the MAOA gene.

这些法官们在职业生涯中处理过很多真实的严重侵犯案件。根据他们提供给研究人员关于此类案件的资讯,似乎都给罪犯判处了平均大约9年的有期徒刑,却不约而同地判处患有精神病的“被告”更长的徒刑——约14年。其中一部分精神病罪犯判处13年徒刑,约减少了一年。法官解释,因为他们的精神病与暴力基因(MAOA)导致脑功能异常有关。

“The diagnosis of psychopathy clearly aggravated sentencing,” says Tabery. “Although the additional information mitigated that a little bit.”

泰伯利说:“尽管基因证据可能会稍微减轻量刑,但确诊为精神病患者很明显会加重量刑。”

The takeaway, he thinks, is that in certain circumstances – particularly when a defendant is likely to spend a limited time in prison and then re-enter society – genetic or neuroscientific evidence can make a big difference in court. It can lead to more severe sentences.

他认为,结论是在某些情况下——尤其是考虑到被告可能入狱一段时间之后重新踏入社会——基因或神经科学证据可以在法庭上发挥重大作用,从而导致更重的判刑。

This idea clearly clashes with Denno’s conclusion that genetic or neuroscientific evidence doesn’t seem to make a decisive difference in court. In a 2013 paper she argued that this is because there are flaws in the study that Tabery and his colleagues performed.

这个观点显然与迪诺的结论相冲突,后者认为,基因或神经科学证据在法庭上似乎并没有起决定性作用。在2013年的一篇论文中,迪诺质疑说这是因为泰伯利和他的同事的研究存在缺陷。

For instance, Denno points out that Tabery and his colleagues chose a disorder – psychopathy – which, in their own words, is a “diagnosis with much stigma”. The judges were also specifically advised that the defendant’s condition was untreatable. This might have encouraged them to think hard about the future danger the defendant would pose to society – harder than they might have done without prompting. The researchers “loaded the dice,” says Denno.

例如,迪诺指出,泰伯利和他的同事选择了一种疾病——精神病——用他们的话说,这是一种“烙印式诊断”。法官们也被特别告知被告的症状无法医治。这可能会引导法官认真考量被告将来出狱后是否会给社会带来危险——但法官们若没有这一提示,可能不会这么长远考虑。迪诺指出,研究人员使用了不正当手段达到他们的研究目的。

What’s more, an attempt to repeat the experiment – this time using judges in Germany – failed to reproduce the same results as Tabery and his colleagues. “I would be very cautious about drawing broad conclusions from the [Tabery team’s] study, at least without a strong replication,” says Appelbaum.

更重要的是,有人试图重复这个实验——邀请德国的法官参与调查——但却没能重现泰伯利以及他的同事一样的结果。阿佩尔鲍姆说:“我会非常谨慎地从(泰伯利团队)的研究中得出含义广泛的结论,至少不会人云亦云。”

Tabery agrees with some criticisms, but he doesn’t think the study’s conclusions should be dismissed – particularly as it explored the effect that scientific evidence can have on the decisions reached by professional judges, not volunteers who lack courtroom experience.

泰伯利接受一些批评,但他认为该研究的结论不应该被驳回——尤其因为该研究调查的是科学证据对专业法官判决的影响,而不是缺乏法庭判决经验的志愿者。

So did Waldroup actually secure a more lenient sentence because of genetic evidence? It seems difficult to argue. Denno’s studies of court cases suggest not – and Tabery’s work suggests it even had the potential to lead to a more, not less, severe sentence.

那么沃尔德鲁普实际上是否因遗传基因证据而获得了更宽松的判决呢?似乎很难获得一致结论。迪诺对法庭案件的研究结论是不会有影响——而泰伯利的研究则认为,基因证据甚至可能导致更重而非更轻的判刑。

But this context can be left out when notorious court cases like Waldroup’s are discussed in the media. It’s easy to get the impression that dangerous criminals are routinely escaping harsher punishments because defence attorneys are using genetics and neuroscience as a trump card.

但是,当媒体讨论沃尔德鲁普这种众所周知的法庭案件时,这个背景可能会被遗漏,而且很容易在社会上给公众营造出这样一种印象:辩护律师有了基因和神经科学这张王牌,那些危险的罪犯很可能利用这张王牌逃避了更严重的法律惩罚。

The reality may be a lot more mundane. Far from revolutionising the criminal justice system, Denno thinks genetics and neuroscience are simply slotting into a pre-existing arsenal of scientific tools that defence or prosecuting attorneys can use to build a case.

实际情况可能要单纯得多。迪诺认为,辩护或公诉律师只是简单地将基因和神经科学加入他们用来构建案件的已有科学手段,基因和神经科学不会彻底改变刑事司法体系。

The general public may be more resistant to the allure of science than many people might typically assume.

而且对科学的魅力,普通大众的抗拒可能比人们通常认为的要大很多。

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