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Law professor explains 'murder gene' in news column

June 06, 2011

Professor Gary Marchant, executive director of the College’s Center for Law, Science & Innovation, was featured in a May 29 column by E.J. Montini of The Arizona Republic.

In the column, “Eventually, science will kill capital punishment,” Montini wrote about convicted murderers who may have possessed a gene that is believed to create a predisposition to violence when linked with other factors. Marchant, who has a Ph.D. in genetics, said science and politics appear to be headed in opposite directions in this area.

“There is a ton of new science coming forward in both genetics and neuroscience that describes the brain in a way that leads to a predisposition to violent behavior,” Marchant said.

Marchant mentioned a recent packed conference co-hosted by the Center, in which experts discussed what position the criminal-justice system should take on the new science. Some believe it should be ignored, while others think it has a place in mitigation, culpability and sentencing, he said.

“Defense attorneys are using it right now,” Marchant said. “But imagine if a kid gets into trouble and you did testing and found some of these conditions existed within his brain. What then?”

To read the full article, click here.

Marchant’s research interests include the use of genetic information in environmental regulation, risk and the precautionary principle, legal aspects of personalized medicine, and regulation of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, neuroscience and biotechnology. He teaches courses in Environmental Law, Law, Science & Technology, Genetics and the Law, Biotechnology: Science, Law and Policy, and Nanotechnology Law & Policy. He is the Lincoln Professor of Emerging Technologies, Law and Ethics at ASU, and also is a professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, as well as a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the Global Institute of Sustainability, and Associate Director of the Origins Initiative.

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law