A Disputed Diagnosis that Sends Parents to Prison for Abuse.
Last evening (3/23/15), PBS aired a segment that takes a critical look at the diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome. The story features Kate Judson, who is the Innocence Network SBS Litigation Fellow, and who has been doing phenomenal work in not only helping those wrongfully convicted of SBS, but also in trying to bring the medical and legal communities together to achieve a true scientific understanding of the causes and symptoms.
See the 10 minute video here.
A disputed diagnosis imprisons parents
Debbie Cenziper of the Washington Post, after a year-long investigation in conjunction with the Medill Justice Project, has written an article addressing the controversy surrounding the diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS).
This is the most comprehensive general publication article on the subject I have seen, and she interviewed people on both sides of the issue. I have extracted some selected quotes:
Dr. Patrick Lantz: “If doctors see retinal hemorrhages, they say it’s abuse, but it’s as scientific as a fortuneteller reading tea leaves.”
Dr. George Nichols: “Shaken Baby Syndrome is a belief system rather than an exercise in modern-day science.” “My greatest worry is that I have deprived someone of justice because I have been overtly biased or just mistaken.”
Dr. Jonathon Arden: “A lot of people in this field, especially many of the pediatricians, make statements that are absolute and dogmatic and do not allow for the exceptions that we know exist. Do you want to be involved in somebody’s wrongful conviction because you had this dogmatic approach that it must be trauma, it must be shaking?”
Dr. Patrick Barnes: “All of the treating physicians simply assumed trauma and stopped looking for alternative explanations. That is not sound science and cannot be the basis of a reliable prosecution.”
Dr. Jan Leestma: “The original papers that espoused Shaken Baby were basically opinion papers with essentially no science applied to them.”
Dr. Norman Guthkelch: “I am doing what I can so long as I have a breath to correct a grossly unjust situation. I think they’ve gone much too far.”
See the Washington Post article here.
February 28, 2015 – Yesterday Washington D.C. Superior Court Judge Neal E. Kravitz ordered $9.2 million be paid by the District to Kirk L. Odom, 52, in compensation for more than 21 years of imprisonment after he was wrongfully convicted of a 1981 Capital Hill rape and burglary. The Washington Post reported (here) that “Odom is one of five D.C. men convicted of rape or murder whose charges have been vacated since 2009 because they were based on erroneous forensics and testimony by an elite unit of FBI hair experts.”
In his District-record award, the judge provided one formula for calculating compensation damages: $1,000 per day for wrongful incarceration, $250 per day for parole time and $200 for each day between his exoneration and trial. The article noted that Judge Kravitz’s opinion comes “as courts are coming to terms Continue reading
Dr. David Benjamin is a world renowned clinical pharmacologist and forensic toxicologist. Consequently, he has substantial experience involving forensic evidence and “expert” testimony. He recently gave a presentation at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting in the Jurisprudence Section focused on Brady violations from a forensic perspective.
There is a mountain of material contained in the presentation, including some specific recommendations for how to combat and counter Brady violations involving forensic evidence and expert testimony.
If you would like to investigate this further, you can contact Dr. Benjamin through his website, and request a copy of the presentation by e’mail.