STORY: "New medical knowledge debunks shaken baby conviction," by Joel Stashenko, published by the New York Law Journal on December 22, 2014. Joel Stashenko is Albany, N.Y., reporter for the New York Law Journal. Covers state and federal courts, the Legislature, state government and the bar. (Thanks to the Wrongful Convictions Blog for drawing our attention to this article. HL);

GIST: "New research into the biomechanics of head injury reveals that the doctors who testified on behalf of the prosecution at trial misinterpreted the medical evidence to conclude that shaking, or shaking with impact, was the only mechanism capable of causing Brittney's injuries," Piampiano ruled in People v. Bailey, 2001-0490. In particular, the judge said, a "sea change" has occurred among medical experts over the potential of young children to suffer fatal head injuries in falls from relatively low heights. The prosecution experts at Bailey's 2001 trial were in agreement that a fall was highly unlikely as the source of Brittney's injuries, Piampiano said. Now, most experts are in "general agreement" that a toddler falling on his or her head from a low height under the right circumstances can sustain a fatal injury, the judge said. Piampiano said prosecution experts also used the retinal hemorrhages noted in Brittney's eyes at her death to confirm their finding of shaken baby syndrome. Experts said such hemorrhages indicated a "rotational head injury" such as those suffered by children as they are violently shaken. But since at least 2010, the judge said, it has been generally accepted that retinal hemorrhages can have multiple causes and that they are not specific to shaken baby syndrome cases. "The credible and persuasive evidence presented by the defense established, by a preponderance of the evidence, a significant change in medical science relating to head injuries in children, generally, and the Shaken Baby Syndrome hypothesis, in particular, since the time of the trial in this matter," Piampiano wrote from Rochester. If the same prosecution experts who appeared at Bailey's trial were to testify today, it is "unlikely" that they would "testify as adamantly, if at all," that Brittney died from being shaken, the judge said. Piampiano's ruling was based on testimony from 13 medical experts, nine from the defense and four from the prosecution, at a hearing in April on Bailey's CPL 440.10 motion. Monroe County District Sandra Doorley has not said whether her office will appeal Piampiano's Dec. 16 ruling or retry Bailey. She did not return a call for comment Friday........Among the medical experts testifying in support of Bailey's position at the 440.10 hearing were Dr. Michael Baden, the former chief New York City medical examiner and Dr. John Plunkett, a forensic pathologist who has challenged the medical community's acceptance of some conditions as conclusive indicators of shaken baby syndrome. Plunkett presented a videotape, viewed by Piampiano in camera, in which a 23-month-old child is seen falling on her head from the top of a 3 1/2-foot-high plastic playhouse-type toy to the carpeted floor of her garage. The girl died from the same kind of subdural hematoma blamed for killing Brittney. A family member caught the accidental fall on camera while videotaping the unidentified girl in 1993, Plunkett said. Piampiano said in his ruling that the videotape showed precisely the kind of "low-velocity impact" fall that the experts at Bailey's trial said was highly unlikely to cause fatal injuries, yet which Bailey maintained was responsible for Brittney's death."

The entire story  - and a link to the ruling -  can be found at: