15 Hours | 15 CEs

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

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 may be – 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.

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 decisionmaking 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 dangerousnesss, 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 hurtles 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

Michael L. 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 Disability Law and Policy Associates. He has written 31 books and nearly 300 articles on all aspects of mental disability law, many of which deal with the overlap between mental disability law and criminal law and procedure.

Heather Ellis Cucolo, JD

Heather Ellis Cucolo is an adjunct professor in New York Law School’s online mental disability law program, has served as Acting Director of that program, and has contributed to the development of courses within the program as well as assisted in collaboration with Asia-Pacific partners to foster international distance learning. Professor Cucolo currently teaches the Americans with Disabilities Act, Therapeutic Jurisprudence, Mental Disability Law and Sex Offenders to both law students, clinicians and other professionals.
  • Intended Audience

    This self-paced program is intended for mental health and other allied professionals.

  • Experience Level

    This self-paced 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.


  • 1


    • Review Before Proceeding

  • 2


    • Lesson 1 Video

    • "They're Planting Stories In the Press"

    • Tolling For the Aching Ones Whose Wounds Cannot Be Nursed

    • Additional Resources

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 3

    Science of TBI

    • Lesson 2 Video

    • Assessing Soldiers’ Mental Health

    • The Criminally Damaged Brain and the Need to Expand Mental Health Courts

    • Additional Resources

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 4


    • Lesson 3 Video

    • Traumatic Brain Injury and The Law - Introduction

    • Additional Resources

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 5

    At Trial - Part 1

    • Lesson 4 Video

    • Guilty or Innocent?

    • Additional Resources

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 6

    At Trial - Part 2

    • Lesson 5 Video

    • "Death is Different"

    • Good and Bad, I Defined These Terms, Quite Clear No Doubt Somehow

    • Additional Resources

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 7

    At Trial - Part 3

    • Lesson 6 Video

    • “Decieved me into Thinking/ I Had Something to Protect”

    • Additional Resources

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 8

    Sex Offenders: Fear and Realities

    • Lesson 7 Video

    • The Strings in the Books Ain't Pulled and Persuaded

    • Additional Resources

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 9

    Post Trial: TBI and Sentencing

    • Lesson 8 Video

    • "In the Wasteland of Your Mind"

    • Additional Resources

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 10

    Post Sentence Substantive and Procedural Rights

    • Lesson 9 Video

    • Invisible Minority

    • Additional Resources

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 11

    TBI and Problem Solving Courts

    • Lesson 10 Video

    • "And My Best Friend, My Doctor/ Wont Even Say What it is I've Got"

    • "My Brain Is So Wired"

    • Additional Resources

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 12


    • Instructions

    • Evaluation

    • Submission Verification

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!

Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates

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.NYSAP professionals have played a key role for 25 years in research on juveniles’ competence to stand trial and in developing juvenile competence standards for forensic clinical practice, law, and policy. In response to the growing demand for juvenile competence evaluations nationally, we provide consultation to assist agencies in developing or refining their juvenile competence service delivery system, as well as creating and conducting quality assurance procedures. We train clinicians and juvenile justice stakeholders (e.g., judges, attorneys, and community partners) in practice standards for conducting high quality juvenile competence evaluations.

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