Several years ago I tried a felony assault case to a jury in Brazos County where my client allegedly caused a teacher serious bodily injury during a struggle in the College Station school system. The teacher was, in fact, injured by my client’s behavior. But the jury also learned he suffered from several physiological problems which caused him to act impulsively and sometimes explosively. In the end they acquitted this young man, largely because they took into consideration facts and circumstances beyond his control that explained his behavior. In this same vein, research is showing that hidden head trauma may be linked to behavioral problems in society. Thanks to John Niland, at the Texas Defender Service, for bringing our attention to some important research on hidden head trauma documented in the Wall Street Journal.
This article written by Thomas M. Burton concluded that long forgotten head injuries may be a factor and may explain many problems in society. Highlights of the study: Researchers studying brain injury believe they’ve found a common thread running through many cases of seemingly unrelated social problems: a long-forgotten blow to the head . . . New research indicates hidden traumatic brain injuries can cause social or educational failure, such as alcoholism or homelessness. That severe head injuries can lead to cognitive and behavioral problems is widely accepted. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 5.3 million Americans suffer from mental or physical disability that is due to brain injury . . . Causes of brain injury can include bike and car accidents, sports concussions such as those suffered by professional football players, and abuse and falls that can date back to childhood. Doctors say about 85% of common falls in infancy don’t produce long-term deficits, but that some do.
These types of findings are of great import to the Bryan criminal defense lawyer. Explaining a client’s aberrant behavior is often our principle challenge. When the defense lawyer can explain behavior using facts and circumstances beyond the clients’ control (like a head injury) and present credible research backing the claims, the client’s cause is much improved and can lead to favorable results.
Stephen Gustitis is a criminal defense lawyer in Bryan-College Station. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a husband, father, and retired amateur bicycle racer.