The Times They Are A Changin’
In the 1990s I tried a murder case in which it was alleged that my client had caused the death of his four month old child by shaking her. The injuries were attributed to "Shaken Baby Syndrome." There was insufficient scientific research on the "syndrome", its legitimacy, and its causes, but that did not prevent the prosecution's pediatric neurologist from testifying about speed, force, causation and his diagnosis.
Fast forward. I am involved in another case in which a client is alleged to have caused the death of his infant child by shaking. Although doctors are coming under greater scrutiny for these diagnoses and courts are recognizing the questionable science upon which many diagnoses are based, the past problems still exist. Many of the doctors seem to be drawing the same conclusions in these cases based on the same information that we have learned has contributed to misdiagnoses throughout the country.
But now, we have a not-so-secret weapon – The Wisconsin Innocence Project, and its Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma expert Kate Judson. We are no longer alone!
I was pointed towards Kate through a friend of a friend. Within minutes of starting my conversation with Kate, who is incredibly knowledgeable as both an academic and practitioner, I was directed to literature, a Yammer web group which included a collection of pleadings, transcripts, articles and a forum, and experts. In addition Kate is running a series of free webinars.
As Kate pointed out, the most common basis for reversals of these cases is ineffective assistance of counsel based on a failure of the defense attorney to call an expert, or the right expert. In these kinds of cases, we often don't know what we don't know, so we may feel we have a handle on the case when we really don't. So Kate has (again) generously made herself available to this community. If you have one of these cases, you can (and should) contact her at (email@example.com).