Source: The Toronto Star
When it comes to lawyers explaining away violent criminal behaviour, the latest courtroom defence is the Teenaged Brain Syndrome.
This newest wrinkle in the defence lawyer's arsenal is not something some lawyer dreamed up after watching one of those 1950s horror movies.
In fact, it doesn't even come from a defence lawyer.
The theory was cited by a justice of the peace at Old City Hall when he released a young man on bail after he was locked up for allegedly going after a court officer with a metal bar.
"The theory out there ... is that because of the fast growth of the teenage brain, until it stabilizes at the age of 24, a teenager is not able to control their actions or make logical judgments with regards to proper behaviour," Justice of the Peace Richard Quon said in his recent ruling that freed Brendon Larkin, described in court as a danger to society.
"And then when the teenager reaches the age of about 24 that brain then sort of subsides and pares down to normal size," said Quon, according to a transcript of his ruling.
Quon went on to say that the theory was "one potential explanation" for Larkin's violent outbursts, which allegedly included smashing a woman's hand underneath a folding countertop.
Recent scientific studies on brain imaging have shown that such grey matter as the prefrontal cortex does keep developing into the late teens and even the early 20s.
While Larkin, a 21-year-old labourer, was freed on bail after allegedly punching his girlfriend and then smashing her friend's hand in July, he was held in custody after he flew into a rage last month and allegedly assaulted the guard outside a Scarborough courthouse.
But Quon released him on $25,000 bail, again referring to the theory: "Unfortunately we can't lock all teenagers up until the age of 24 when their brain sort of shrinks back to normal."