Jan 2, 2019 0 Comments in Crime, Lead, Neurotoxic legacy of war, Neurotoxicity, Solvents by

My work in neurotoxicity and neuropsychology was cited by US Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2016. They reviewed work that I had accomplished in a death penalty case, where I had presented evidence that the convicted murderer had actually been poisoned as a child and young adult – and that the poisoning created neuropsychological conditions that made him susceptible to violent crime later in life. The Supreme Court justices based their opinion (in part) on the proof that I presented that the violent offender had indeed been poisoned; that his brain had been permanently damaged from the poisons; and that this damage reduced his ability to think, plan, manage, remember, and control. Without these human neuropsychological functions, humans are reduced to animals who are controlled by reflexes – not by reason – or they may respond as machine-like automatons under conditions of extreme stress. A person in that reduced state of human functioning, according to law, is less guilty for their actions, however deplorable, and may have the death penalty abated. The death penalty is reserved for those who knowingly and with full human faculties commit murder.

This opinion sets a precedent for evaluating the true costs and effects of neurotoxic poisoning in our society. At times, industry carelessly pollutes our environment – as occurred in this case. The pollution can have devasting effects on the human nervous system and human behavior many years later. The horrible effects of neurotoxic pollution may manifest many years later in a tragic murder due to brain illness. Unfortunately, people suffering from neurotoxicity often cannot even get a proper diagnosis, let alone treatment and rehabilitation. This lack of proper diagnosis and treatment is often due to the lack of education among treating doctors regarding the possible effects neurotoxicity, resulting in misdiagnosis of patient’s illnesses.

Adding insult to injury, some lawyers assist in the injustice by denying neurotoxicity cases their just compensation for their illnesses when they appeal to courts for help with their illness, and sometimes persuading judges to prevent a jury from even learning about possible neurotoxic causes of a plaintiff’s illness. The result is obviously an unfair trial.

 JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE GINSBURG joins, dissenting from the denial of certiorari, wrote the following: 

   “Elmore was born in 1951 in central Oregon, where he lived until his teens. Social History, 12 Record 5524-5530. He was exposed to powerful neurotoxins from a young age. Elmore’s house in Oregon was located next to an airport from which crop dusters regularly sprayed pesticides. Trial Court Findings of Fact, No. 95-1-00310-1 (Sup. Ct. Whatcom Cty., Wash., Sept. 10, 2004), 14 id., at 6519-6520 (FOF). Decades after Elmore moved away, the state environmental agency took soil samples that showed toxin levels over 4,500 times the maximum amounts allowed by state law. Decl. of Raymond Singer, 11 id., at 5394 (Singer Decl.). Later, Elmore worked on cars and oil pipelines where he regularly melted lead batteries and handled solvents without gloves. FOF, 14 id., at 6521-6522. And when Elmore left home at age 17 to serve in the Vietnam War, he was tasked with repairing Agent Orange pumps without protective equipment. Id., at 6522; Singer Decl., 11 id., at 5395.

     Experts who testified at Elmore’s postconviction hearing agreed that this exposure placed him at serious risk of brain damage. They conducted neuropsychological tests that revealed mild to moderate cognitive impairments, see Reporter’s Tr. in No. 95-1-00310-1, 15 id., at 7076 (PRP Tr.), including a marked inability to control his emotions and impulses, “see id., at 7079-7080. Elmore tested in the bottom one percent on tests measuring that characteristic. Id., at 7080. The experts concluded that damage to Elmore’s frontal lobe had made him impulsive and susceptible to emotion. See Decl. of Dale Watson, 11 id., at 5383; Decl. of Raymond Singer, 13 id., at 6389 (2d Singer Decl.); Decl. of George Woods, 11 id., at 5360-5361 (Woods Decl.). And they agreed that the murder Elmore later committed was linked to Elmore’s cognitive deficits–for instance, by making him unable to “pu[t] on the brakes” when emotional. See FOF, 14 id., at 6495; see also Woods Decl., 11 id., at 5358; 2d Singer Decl., 13 id., at 6389-6390; PRP Tr., 15 id., at 7094.”


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