Mike Bowers, on his blog Forensics in Focus, has posted the news that a new “anti-junk science forensics” bill has been signed into law in California.
The law permits post conviction defendants the ability to contest expert testimony that was presented against them at trial. In other words, convictions in which experts have either repudiated their past testimony, or used forensic “science” that is later deemed faulty by legitimate research, are subject to later proceedings reversing that conviction.
This is a huge deal, because it prevents prosecutors and judges from just using old case law as an excuse for ignoring habeas corpus appeals expressing new forensic research and attitudes.
We posted here on the WCB about the new SBS Documentary The Syndrome a few days ago. See that post here.
As I hope you all know, Sue Luttner is the editor of the blog OnSBS. Sue was recently able to conduct a phone interview with the producer of The Syndrome, Susan Goldsmith, and posted about it here.
A new, compelling documentary on the junk science of shaken baby syndrome, titled The Syndrome, will premiere at the Kansas Film Festival in October, 2014.
Synopsis: The Syndrome tells the story of a group of doctors who say that shaken baby syndrome, the basis of hundreds of criminal cases every year, is not scientifically valid. The film focuses on three key doctors: A Georgetown University neurosurgeon, a former Minnesota state medical examiner, and the head of Stanford University’s Pediatric Neuroradiology Department. These doctors are part of a growing scientific movement coming to the defense of the some thousand people in prison for shaken baby. In an unprecedented criminal justice crisis, promoters of shaken baby syndrome are not backing down.
Watch the trailer here.
Editorial Comment: Of course the promoters of this medical voodoo are not backing down. For them, SBS has been their source of livelihood, notoriety, and power.
The Arson Research Project says that 30 men and women have been exonerated from wrongful arson convictions since 1991. More than half of them were exonerated from life sentences or from death row. In the case of one Texas inmate, Cameron Todd Willingham, the research project says, such forensic error led to the execution of an innocent man.
To help prevent such tragedies in the future, the Arson Research Project, which is affiliated at Monterey College of Law, has published an excellent report, Anatomy of a Wrongful Arson Conviction, which you can download here.
The center’s director, Paul Bieber, presents a good video summary on wrongful arson convictions and the difficulty reversing them, here.
Cassandra Ann Jenecke has posted the above-titled article on SSRN. Download here. The abstract states:
Shaken Baby Syndrome prosecutions are vulnerable to wrongful convictions because of the erosion of the science behind the diagnosis of SBS and because of the inflammatory nature of the charges. This paper evaluates the science behind the medical and legal diagnosis of SBS. It also explores international reforms related to the same developments in science and finds the American response lacking. The author concludes that without recognition of and reform related to the evolution of our scientific understanding of SBS, actors within the American criminal justice system will continue to contribute to the almost certain wrongful conviction of innocent caregivers and parents.
- Exoneree Clarence Harrison makes music with his new album “Life Sentence.”
- Pennsylvania Innocence Project client Han Tak Lee walks free in Pennsylvania on Friday after his arson conviction is thrown out by a federal judge
- After long battle, California Innocence Project client Timothy Atkins declared factually innocent and to receive state compensation for his wrongful conviction
- Steve Drizin writes about the joint effort of Northwestern U and U Michigan to exonerate Jamie Lee Peterson
- Mississippi Innocence Project writes about the potentially false testimony in a number of cases by medical examiner Steven Hayne
- Original detectives back bid by Michigan Innocence Clinic to get new trial for Jeff Titus
- Wisconsin Innocence Project seeks DNA testing in 1982 murder case
- The Exonerated (the play) in ebook format
- From the AP: The Texas state fire marshal has volunteered to turn over more than a decade of his office’s casework to advocates so they can examine them for wrongful convictions. Fire Marshal Chris Connealy has been working with the Innocence Project of Texas for more than a year to review old cases. But now he’s sent 24 cases from 2002 to 2004 to the Innocence Project so the Lubbock-based group can vet his office’s work, with a pledge to turn over all of his more recent case files. He says it’s an important step for the public “to have confidence in the criminal justice system.” Several high-profile arson cases have come under scrutiny in Texas, including that of Cameron Todd Willingham, executed for the fire deaths of his three daughters.
- Oscar nominated director to direct The Brian Banks Story
- Two new books about wrongful conviction by Morrison Bonpasse
- Summary of Amanda Knox appeal
- The latest from the Innocence Project of Singapore