EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

My Request for Review for Michelle Heale in a "Shaken Baby Syndrome" Case

Yesterday, I filed a Request for Review with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Conviction Review Unit on behalf of Michelle Heale. Here's the Introduction to that Request:

On April 17, 2015, Michelle Heale was convicted of aggravated manslaughter and child endangerment based on the death of fourteen-month old Mason Hess, whom she had been babysitting. Michelle Heale is actually innocent of these crimes and would have been acquitted at trial if not for an error by her trial counsel in failing to present testimony and a report by the leading expert who could have proven her defense. Moreover, new evidence calling into question the use of the traditional triad of symptoms to diagnose Shaken Baby Syndrome – a diagnosis of exclusion, not inclusion – supports a finding of actual innocence. Indeed, this new evidence has led a New Jersey court to conclude that the evidence used to convict Ms. Heale is insufficiently reliable to even be admissible at trial.

Further details about the case can be found in Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg's article in The Appeal.


February 16, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

My New Article: "License to Kill?: A New Test for the New Crime Exception"

I have posted a draft of my new article, License to Kill?: A New Test for the New Crime Exception, on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Imagine that a police officer racially profiles and forcibly arrests an African American man without even reasonable suspicion that he committed a crime. Further, imagine that the man responds by committing a crime such as running away as the officer reaches for his handcuffs or giving the officer a fake name when asked to identify himself. The new crime exception to the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule allows for prosecutors to introduce evidence connected to new crimes committed by defendants who were illegally detained and/or questioned. Courts largely have applied this new crime exception without any analytical framework or any regard for the severity of the initial police misconduct or the defendant’s response. Moreover, courts have begun applying the new crime exception to crimes such as giving a fake name in response to an un-Mirandized interrogation following a lawful arrest.

This article argues that the new crime exception has swallowed the exclusionary rule, but that courts can recalibrate the exception by returning it to its roots in the attenuation doctrine. By applying that doctrine’s traditional framework with a central focus on the purpose and flagrancy of the defendant’s new crime, courts can replace their current “all or nothing” approach with a cost-benefit balancing that will better serve public policy goals in a more nuanced way. This central focus on the purpose and flagrancy of the new crime should mirror the approach currently applied under a different exclusionary rule that deals with the dichotomy between past and future crimes: the attorney-client privilege.

Any comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated.


February 2, 2022 | Permalink | Comments (0)