Flawed Convictions: Shaken Baby Syndrome and the Inertia of Injustice

Paperback | March 16, 2015

byDeborah Tuerkheimer

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The emergence of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) presents an object lesson in the dangers that lie at the intersection of science and criminal law. As often occurs in the context of scientific knowledge, understandings of SBS have evolved. We now know that the diagnostic triad alone does not provebeyond a reasonable doubt that an infant was abused, or that the last person with the baby was responsible for the baby's condition. Nevertheless, our legal system has failed to absorb this new consensus. As a result, innocent parents and caregivers remain incarcerated and, perhaps moreperplexingly, triad-only prosecutions continue even to this day.Flawed Convictions: "Shaken Baby Syndrome" and the Inertia of Injustice is the first book to survey the scientific, cultural, and legal history of Shaken Baby Syndrome from inception to formal dissolution. It exposes extraordinary failings in the criminal justice system's treatment of what is, inessence, a medical diagnosis of murder. The story of SBS highlights fundamental inadequacies in the legal response to "science dependent prosecution." A proposed restructuring of the law contends with the uncertainty of scientific knowledge.

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From the Publisher

The emergence of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) presents an object lesson in the dangers that lie at the intersection of science and criminal law. As often occurs in the context of scientific knowledge, understandings of SBS have evolved. We now know that the diagnostic triad alone does not provebeyond a reasonable doubt that an infant was...

Deborah Tuerkheimer is a Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law. From 2009 to 2014 she was Professor of Law at DePaul University College of Law. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard College and her law degree from Yale. After clerking for the Alaska Supreme Court, Professor Tuerkheimer served for five ye...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 9.21 × 6.1 × 0.79 inPublished:March 16, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190233613

ISBN - 13:9780190233617

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. A Medical Diagnosis of CrimeThe Prosecution ParadigmThe Lure of Blame2. ComplicationsScrutinyThe New SBSDoubtful Convictions3. The Triad EnduresToday's SBSChild Abuse SpecializationProsecutorial CertaintyStaying Power4. TrialsDeciding GuiltCase on Trial5. Missed DiagnosisDiagnostic ErrorA Legal Perspective on Differential DiagnosisAnatomy of a Missed Diagnosis6. ConfessionsNon-Confession ConfessionsUnreliable ConfessionsInside the Interrogation Room7. Fluky JusticeAcquittalsDismissalsNo-Arrest Cases8. Guilty PleasA System in FluxWhen Innocents Plead GuiltyThe Meaning of Lopsided Pleas9. The Limits of Judicial ReviewSufficiency ChallengesCollateral Attack10. ReformImproving Medical OutcomesUpstream Innocence ProtectionDownstream Innocence ProtectionAfterwordIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Tuerkheimer's book is a highly readable resource for anyone interested in the history of the SBS controversy and the current state of affairs." --David A. Moran, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Michigan Innocence Clinic, University of Michigan Law School, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books