Saturday, May 10, 2014

Jennifer Del Prete: Shaken Baby Syndrome: "Ripple effects." The decision releasing her on bond pending a decision in her federal case is seen as an important precedent that could lead to the overturning of many other cases, law prof says. Medill Justice Project; (Link to the entire opinion provided. HL);

POST: "Ripple effects: Judge's ruling in Del Prete case is already having an impact on shaken-baby syndrome in the legal arena," by reporters "Manini Gupta and Megan Thielking," published by the Medill Justice Project on May 8, 2014.

SUB-HEADING:  "U.S. District Court Judge Matthew F. Kennelly’s ruling in the Del Prete case has prompted many in the legal realm to reevaluate the traditional understanding of shaken-baby syndrome cases."

GIST: "The ruling, a rare instance when a federal judge has released an inmate on bond pending a decision on her federal case, is now being viewed as a precedent in several areas of the shaken-baby syndrome debate. “If this trial was tainted because the defense lawyer didn’t do a good enough job of contesting the shaken-baby argument, well then, there are a whole lot more cases out there that are also going to be overturned on the same basis,” said Joseph L. Hoffman, Harry Pratter professor of law at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law and an expert in criminal procedure and habeas corpus law......... “The challenge is always setting out scientific facts for a legal audience. That’s been done very well here by the court, and it’s understandable,” said Katherine Judson, the shaken-baby syndrome litigation fellow at the Innocence Network, a coalition of international organizations that provide free legal services for prisoners with potentially wrongfully convictions. She assists lawyers in defending shaken-baby syndrome cases. “Any time there’s evidence that many would argue is insufficient is effectively challenged, that’s obviously precedential.” Judson added, “This judge is saying that there simply isn’t enough information on medical findings alone, in absence of other evidence, to convict someone on assault, or child abuse, or murder. To have that recognized is very encouraging.”.........Though the judge’s opinion can be used as a precedent, the case isn’t settled. Del Prete is still appealing her case in state and federal courts. A temporary hold has been placed on any federal proceedings while defense attorneys pursue in state court a Brady violation claim in which Del Prete accuses the state of withholding key evidence that points to her innocence. After she addresses her state claim, Del Prete will then resume her federal claim. The legal process could take years. If Del Prete’s habeas corpus petition is rejected in federal court, she could return to prison. If the petition is granted, the state could drop the case and not pursue a new trial, retry Del Prete, or appeal the granting of the habeas corpus petition. In March, in an unusual move, prosecutors did not oppose Del Prete’s request to be released from prison on bond while her case works its way through the courts."

The entire post can be found at:

Link to Judge Kennelly's  opinion:



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