Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Shirley Ree Smith: (California): Shaken Baby Syndrome; Belated but good news. Her commutation by Governor Jerry Brown;

 PUBLISHER"S NOTE: As they say, it's better late than never. In spite of my paranoid efforts to keep on top of developments in  dozens  of cases around the world - so that I can report on them to our readers - occasionally one slips through. That's what happened with the good news about the clemency granted by Governor Jerry Brown to Shirley Rees Smith.  Mea culpa;

Harold Levy; Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.


POST: "Clemency granted for Shirley Smith," by Sue Luttner, published on "On SBS" on April 6, 2012.

GIST: "Governor Jerry Brown commuted the sentence this morning of Shirley Ree Smith, whose case will remain a landmark in the arena. Shirley and her family are jubilant, of course, even though her conviction stands. “I’ve been waiting so long for this day,” she said on the telephone this afternoon, “I can’t believe it’s finally here.” Shirley said she was especially grateful to the people who helped her, directly and indirectly. ”I would like to thank everyone who stood in my corner and fought for justice with me all these years,” she said, “I did not have to stand alone.” Justice is not complete, Smith conceded, as she still has a criminal record, “but I can get on with my life now, and the story will help people find out what’s going on with shaken baby syndrome.” In an interview in January, while waiting for the results of the clemency petition, Shirley’s daughter Tomeka Smith reflected, “In a way we don’t want the clemency, because that means she’s done something wrong and she needs to be pardoned. That’s sad. That’s not what she wants.” This morning, though, when the phone call came from the attorney, “We were all clapping and jumping and shouting and hugging, the whole family,” Tomeka said, adding, “Still, we’d like to see something official, a piece of paper, to let us know it’s really over.”.........Smith served a decade in prison before the Ninth Circuit Court vacated her conviction on appeal in 2006, declaring the evidence against her constitutionally inadequate. Since then she has been out of prison but constrained in her movements while the state appealed the circuit court’s decision. That appeal reached the Supreme Court this past fall. The high court reinstated her conviction, but in a ruling that didn’t address her guilt or innocence: their argument was that the appeals court should not override a jury’s decision. The written opinion even recognized that doubts about her guilt are “understandable,” and it contained a potent dissenting opinion from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that outlined the substantial medical evidence against the traditional model of shaken baby syndrome. (The full opinion is available at this link.) Through it all, Shirley Smith has kept her faith and her spirit, proving the value of a supportive family. DePaul University law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, a critic of convictions based solely on the triad (see her op ed from fall 2010), recently called Shirley one of the “incredible figures in this saga.”"

The entire post can be found at:


See also Sue Luttner's commentary on the commutation published in the Reporting on Health Member Blog  on April 26, 2012 at:



I am monitoring this case. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments.

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:


Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.