Thursday, May 1, 2014

Jennifer Del Prete: In a noteworthy commentary, Professor Deborah Tuerkheimer calls the case "a critical turning point" and observes that "Finally, a judge calls shaken baby diagnosis an "article of faith" and frees Jennifer Del Prete, who was sentenced for murder 10 years ago." (Must, Must Read. HL);

POST: "Finally, a judge calls shaken baby diagnosis an "article of faith" and frees Jennifer Del Prete, who was sentenced for murder 10 years ago," by Deborah Tuerkheimer, published by Slate on May 1, 2014.  (Deborah Tuerkheimer, a professor of law at DePaul University, is a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan who has written widely on rape and domestic violence. Her new book is Flawed Convictions: “Shaken Baby Syndrome” and the Inertia of Injustice.)

PHOTO CAPTION: "Doctors once believed that bleeding beneath the outer layer of membranes surrounding the brain, bleeding in the retina, and brain swelling always meant that a baby had been shaken."

GIST: "Almost a decade into a 20-year prison sentence for murdering a baby in her care, 43-year-old Jennifer Del Prete was ordered freed on bond late last week. The ruling is one of a growing number that reflect skepticism on the part of judges, juries, and even prosecutors about criminal convictions based on the medical diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome. The case is also a critical turning point. The certainty that once surrounded shaken baby syndrome, or SBS, has been dissolving for years. The justice system is beginning to acknowledge this shift but should go further to re-examine and perhaps overturn more past convictions.........Now for the first time, a federal judge has condemned the standard SBS diagnosis itself. In a 97-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly held in January that Del Prete had established her “actual innocence,” paving the way for a full exoneration. Considering the testimony of doctors on both sides at an eight-day hearing, there was “abundant doubt, not merely reasonable doubt, regarding Del Prete’s guilt.” One reason for this doubt was that the baby’s subdural bleeding began well before she was left in Del Prete’s care. But another, hugely important, rationale for the ruling was that the SBS diagnosis had become, Kennelly wrote, “highly suspect.” Given what we now know, the judge continued, a diagnosis of SBS is arguably “more an article of faith than a proposition of science.” The prospect that Del Prete was wrongly incarcerated, while her children grew into adulthood, is profoundly troubling. But her case highlights problems that transcend her own tragedy—gross dysfunction in our criminal justice system. While Del Prete’s conviction is evidently unraveling, others just like it remain untouched. That can’t be right. Perhaps hundreds of inmates—people like Beverly Moore and Alma Calderaro—sit in prison because the mere presence of the triad of SBS symptoms was once assumed to prove their guilt. We have no mechanism in place for revisiting a category of flawed convictions. Our criminal justice system is too primed to stay the course."

The entire post can be found at:

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;