"What’s needed is a comprehensive study of shaken baby syndrome to resolve the outstanding areas of disagreement. The National Academy of Sciences, which last year issued a comprehensive report on the scientific underpinnings of forensic science, would be the ideal institution to undertake such a study.
In the meantime, however, there remains the question of justice. In Ontario, an official investigation concluded that there are deep concerns about the science underlying the triad, and now the province is reviewing all convictions based on shaken baby syndrome. Similar inquiries should be conducted on a statewide level here in the United States." (Publisher's note: Ms. Tuerkheimer is referring to the Goudge Inquiry which reviewed many case of the disgraced pathologist Dr. Charles Randal Smith.")
DEBORAH TUERKHEIMER; OP-ED; NEW YORK TIMES; Deborah Tuerkheimer, a professor of law at DePaul University, is a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan."
Background: The inquiry focused largely on the flawed work of Dr. Smith — formerly the province's chief pediatric pathologist and a self-styled member of the prosecution team — whose "errors" led to innocent people being branded as child murderers. The 1,000-page report by Justice Stephen Goudge slammed Dr. Smith, along with Ontario's former chief coroner and his deputy, for their roles in wrongful prosecutions and asked the province to consider compensation. The provincial coroner's office found evidence of errors in 20 of 45 autopsies Dr. Smith did over a 10-year period starting in the early 1990s. Thirteen resulted in criminal charges. William Mullins-Johnson, who was among those cases, spent 12 years in prison for the rape and murder of his four-year-old niece, whose death was later attributed to natural causes. In another case, Dr. Smith concluded a mother had stabbed her seven-year-old girl to death when it turned out to have been a dog mauling. Several of the cases involved the harm caused to innocent persons because of Smith's use of the so-called "shaken-child syndrome" to ground a finding of criminality. The inquiry heard that Dr. Smith's failings included hanging on to crucial evidence, "losing" evidence which showed his opinion was wrong and may have assisted the accused person, misstating evidence, chronic tardiness, and the catastrophic misinterpretation of findings. The cases, along with other heart-rending stories of wrongful prosecutions based in part on Smith's testimony, also raised a host of issues about the pathology system and the reliance of the courts on expert evidence."