Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rene Bailey; Greece, New York: "Democrat and Chronicle" wades in on the case of Barbara Hershey - once thought by her lawyers to be "the perfect opportunity to attack the science of shaken baby syndrome." Prosecutor says "what we used to call shaken-baby syndrome...may now be called inflicted head trauma."

STORY: "Watchdog report: Shaken-baby triad still rules in New York courts," by reporter Gary Craig, published by the Democrat  and Chronicle  June 30, 2013. (Thanks to the Wrongful Convictions Blog for drawing our attention to this story. H.L.)

VIDEO  CAPTION:  "The case of Barbara Hershey: Barbara Hershey was 65 when she was convicted and imprisoned in 2007 for causing the death of an infant in her care."

GIST:  "The case of Barbara Hershey — an Ontario County grandmother convicted of killing a 4-month-old boy — seemed to her appellate lawyers to be the perfect opportunity to attack the science of shaken-baby syndrome. Shaken-baby syndrome — a diagnosis of brain trauma triggered by the vigorous shaking of a child — has come under challenge in recent years. Hershey was convicted of causing the fatal injuries inflicted upon her stepgrandson, Ethan Hershey, by shaking him. “I thought this was a good case to challenge the science and we challenged it as thoroughly and persuasively as we could,” said Rochester lawyer William Easton, who represented Hershey in an appeal of her conviction. However, when Barbara Hershey’s case was heard in 2011 by the Rochester region’s appellate division of state Supreme Court, the judges spent little time discussing the science. That lack of discussion about shaken-baby syndrome is illustrative of a medical diagnosis that has yet to see a robust challenge in New York’s appellate courts, where legal precedents are made. And critics of shaken-baby syndrome — ranks that are growing in number — say that courts can be an ill-suited venue for shifting beliefs in science. “The problem is the legal system moves and changes in terms of decades,” said Dr. Peter Stephens, a North Carolina forensic pathologist and prominent critic of shaken-baby syndrome. “The medical system can change in months, literally.” But believers in the syndrome’s science say that the diagnosis is legally entrenched because it is reliable. The “vast majority of qualified doctors in the fields that deal with this issue are convinced of the existence of what we used to call shaken-baby syndrome and what may now be called inflicted head trauma,” said Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo, who prosecuted Hershey.

The entire story can be found at:


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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:

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