Monday, September 3, 2012

Pamela Jacobazzi: Chicago Sun-Times A wise warning about 'shaken baby syndrome." "Disproving proven theories that led to injustice." Must Read.

EDITORIAL: "Disproving proven theories that led to injustice: Too often, cutting-edge scientific theories send people to prison only to turn out to have more holes than Swiss cheese," published by the Chicago Sun-Times on September 1, 2012.

GIST: "There was the medical theory — later discredited — that helped land about 30 adults from Bakersfield, Calif., in prison for sexually abusing children in the 1990s. There were the arson theories that helped send Cameron Todd Willingham to a Texas execution chamber in 2004, only to be rejected later by other experts relying on advances in fire science. There was the theory of identifiable unique shoe-wear patterns that helped send at least eight men to prison for life in the United States and Canada in the 1980s before scientists concluded the whole idea was fiction. So when a case involving the theory of “shaken-baby syndrome” returns to the DuPage County courthouse this fall, the theory should be put under a microscope. Only proof that puts all doubt to rest will suffice.........DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin has said prosecutors are prepared to defend the conviction at a new evidentiary hearing scheduled for November. At the hearing, new science that wasn’t available at the time of trial will be presented, as well as pediatric records that the defense will argue show the child’s symptoms could have been caused by disease. “The general consensus is that the medical evidence used at her trial is no longer valid,” said Bill Clutter, of the Illinois Innocence Project, which is working on behalf of Jacobazzi. And DuPage County lawyer Terry Ekl, who defended a similar shaken-baby case in DuPage County, said authorities should be wary of basing a case largely on shaken-baby syndrome: “Everybody wants to see someone be convicted when a baby dies.” But, he said, “I think this is an area where there are innocent people in jail who have been convicted as a result of flawed theories.” .........The medical evidence in this case must be weighed carefully. If any doubt remains, this conviction must be overturned."

The entire editorial can be found at:

See also: "Ever Meek, ever malleable," an op-ed column by Frank Bruni, published in the New York Times on September 2, 2012. This insightful column does not contain the word "forensic," does not mention "shaken baby syndrome," and in no ways deals with pathology - but it is of considerable grist to this Blog because Bruni offers a very convincing explanation as to why people swallow holus-bolus unscientific theories such as 'shaken baby syndrome' - and tend to buy into the opinions of so-called authorities like Charles Smith, instead of using their minds and thinking twice. HL.

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