CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuerkheimer on Shaken Baby Syndrome

TuerkheimerDeborah Tuerkheimer (DePaul University - College of Law) has posted Flawed Convictions: 'Shaken Baby Syndrome' and the Inertia of Injustice: Introduction (Oxford University Press, April 2014, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract: 

The emergence of "Shaken Baby Syndrome" 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 — the three neurological symptoms once equated with guilt — does not itself prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an infant was abused nor 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 more perplexingly, triad-based prosecutions continue even to this day.

This is the CONTENTS and INTRODUCTION to "Flawed Convictions: 'Shaken Baby Syndrome' and the Inertia of Injustice" (Oxford University Press, April 2014). "Flawed Convictions" surveys the scientific, cultural, and legal history of SBS from inception to formal dissolution, exposing extraordinary failings in the criminal justice system’s treatment of what is, in essence, a medical diagnosis of murder. The story of SBS highlights fundamental inadequacies in the legal response to science-dependent prosecution. "Flawed Convictions" proposes a restructuring of the law that confronts the uncertainty of scientific knowledge.

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