MDLPA: Traumatic Brain Injury and the Law

Presented By Heather Ellis Cucolo, JD | Michael Perlin, JD
Heather Ellis Cucolo, JD Michael Perlin, JD

15 hours | 15 CEs

This on-demand professional training program on Traumatic Brain Injury and Criminal Law is presented by Michael L. Perlin, JD, and Heather E. Cucolo, JD, in partnership with the Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates (MDLPA).

Individuals with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) have a greater risk of becoming justice-involved due to the role that many TBIs play in impulse control and judgment. Research has established that persons accused of criminal behavior “are at a very high risk of [having] traumatic brain injuries that predate the offense with which they are charged.” These individuals’ cases are often not handled in the way that the cases of defendants who present with mental illness or intellectual disability maybe – there may be no discussion of diversion opportunities or a need for comprehensive evaluation and treatment.

Often, expert witnesses assigned to evaluate such individuals have no experience dealing with this specific population, Additionally, attorneys assigned to represent this cohort may not have encountered individuals with TBI before and may not be familiar with behavioral manifestations that could be relevant as a defense or as mitigation in individual cases. In recent years there has been much greater attention paid to this cohort, in large part because of the focus on professional football players whose CTE was discovered in autopsies (not a part of this program). We believe that this reality has spurred (and will spur) more interest in this question.

Intended Audience

This on-demand professional training program is intended for mental health and other allied professionals

Experience Level

This on-demand professional training program is appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level clinicians.

CE / CPD Credit

APA, ASWB, CPA, NBCC Click here for state and other regional board approvals.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this program you will be able to:

Describe why it is impossible to understand TBI caselaw without understanding the ways that sanism, pretextuality, heuristic thinking, and false “ordinary common sense” have contaminated the criminal justice system

Describe the rudiments of TBI “science” so that the caselaw decision-making discussed in the following weeks makes better sense to them

Describe how TBI may influence decision-making in the full range of pre-trial motions that are common in criminal cases.

Describe the interplay between TBI and the incompetency status and the insanity defense

Describe the impact of TBI on death penalty cases, looking specifically at questions of future dangerousness, mitigation, and competency to be executed

Describe why expert testimony is so critical in all cases involving defendants with TBI, and why adequacy-of-counsel is the crucial “hidden” issue in almost all such cases

Describe the ways that persons with TBI are sentenced and the various hurdles to treatment and effective interventions post-sentencing

Describe why it is essential to use a therapeutic jurisprudence filter for all TBI/criminal law cases, and why this is especially important in cases involving defendants appearing in problem-solving courts


Presented By

Heather Ellis Cucolo, JD

Heather Ellis Cucolo is a Distinguished Adjunct professor of law and the facilitator of the joint JD/MA program with John Jay College of Criminal Justice, at New York Law School (NYLS). She is also an adjunct professor in the JM Program at Emory University School of Law, and a Fellowship faculty mem...

Presented By

Michael Perlin, JD

Michael L. Perlin is Professor of Law Emeritus at New York Law School (NYLS), founding director of NYLS’s Online Mental Disability Law Program, and founding director of NYLS’s International Mental Disability Law Reform Project in its Justice Action Center. He is also the co-founder of Mental Di...


1. Introduction

2. Science of TBI

3. Pretrial

4. At Trial - Part 1

5. At Trial - Part 2

6. At Trial - Part 3

7. Sex Offenders: Fear and Realities

8. Post Trial: TBI and Sentencing

9. Post Sentence Substantive and Procedural Rights

10. TBI and Problem Solving Courts

Develop a Specialty Area of Practice

Transforming mental health professionals into experts

Expert Instructors

Professional training developed and delivered by the field's leading experts

CE Credit

Earn CE credit for meaningful professional training that will elevate your practice

Convenience & Flexibility

Learn at your own pace, from wherever you might be!

Program Partner

Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates, LLC

We are proud to partner with Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates, LLC for this training. MDLPA is a boutique educational training company that offers specialized mental disability law consulting, the creation or enhancement of distance learning programs, in-house or online courses, and day or weekend training seminars to reputable organizations, educational institutions, professional groups, and advocacy groups focused on providing advanced knowledge and skills to persons working with marginalized populations.

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