JuriSnippet: Judges should not attempt to predict the course of science

In determining the sentence of a man convicted of possession of child pornography, the judge rejected two separate psychological evaluations that he was at “low to moderate risk to re-offend.”  Noting that he did not “have a lot of faith in that profession [psychology] in the first place,” the judge instead relied on his own theory that some fifty years from now, the defendant’s conduct would be discovered to be caused by “a gene you were born with … and can[not] get rid of.”  The Appellate court vacates the sentence, taking the unusual step of remanding to a different judge, while noting that it “is undisputed that it would be impermissible for the court to base its decision of recidivism on its unsupported theory of genetics.”  The opinion can be read here.

About Patrick Boucher

The author, Patrick M. Boucher, is a patent attorney living near Denver, Colorado and working at Marsh Fischmann & Breyfogle. He holds a Ph.D. in physics as well as a J.D. He is an active member of the American Physical Society, and is admitted to practice law in the states of Colorado and New York, as well as to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is also a member of the Authors Guild and of the Colorado Authors League.