The Innocence Network has created a resource for defenders which contains reports, scientific articles, motions, transcripts, and practice pointers for cases involving shaken baby allegations. Email Katherine Judson for information about accessing this website. It is a tremendous resource and worth the minimal effort to get access.
Contact Sarah Rackley Olson for full text articles and additional training materials on Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Reports and Publications
- State of Michigan Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Department of Health and Human Services: Forensic Interviewing Protocol
State of Michigan Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect and DHHS (2015). Forensic Interviewing Protocol (4th ed.)
- Structured forensic interview protocols improve the quality and informativeness of investigative interviews with children: A review of research using the NICHD Investigative Interview Protocol
Lamb, M., Orbach, Y., Hershkowitz , Esplin,P ., Horowitz, I. (2007 ). A structured interview protocol improves the quality and informativeness of investigative interviews with children: A review of research using the NICHD investigative interview protocol. Child Abuse and Neglect. 31, 1201 1231.
Ceci , S., Bruck, M. (1993). The suggestibility of the child witness: a historical review and synthesis. Psychological Bulletin. 113, 403 439.
Brown, D., Lamb, M. (2015 ). Can children be useful witnesses? It depends how they are questioned. Child Development Perspectives.
- American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) Practice Guidelines: Forensic Interviewing in Cases of Suspected Child Abuse
American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. (2012). Practice guidelines: Forensic interviewing in cases of suspected child abuse. APSAC.
- Childrens Allegations of Sexual Abuse in Criminal Trials: Assessing Defense Attacks on Credibility and Identifying Effective Prosecution Methods
Date: February 2020
Author: Stacia N. Stolzenberg
Annotation: This study examined how attorneys establish and attack children’s credibility in cases that involve alleged child sexual abuse (CSA), and assessed how attorneys phrased questions for such children, how children responded, and whether questioning practices were sensitive to the developmental level of the child.
National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse publication that provides information on how to rebut specific defense arguments.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention publications that might be helpful in evaluating how a child abuse investigation was carried out.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guide that teaches techniques for investigating child deaths, including scene investigation, interview techniques, and reporting practices for investigators.
Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment 2016 review of the available scientific evidence finding:
- There is limited scientific evidence that the triad and therefore its components can be associated with traumatic shaking (low quality evidence).
- There is insufficient scientific evidence on which to assess the diagnostic accuracy of the triad in identifying traumatic shaking (very low quality evidence).
US DOJ guide to conducting an investigation of child injuries.
Examines the controversy concerning Shaken Baby Syndrome and how emerging medical research is prompting the legal system to re-examine SBS convictions. Click on the link and then click Download This Paper at the top of the page to read the full article.
Explains the history of the Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma diagnosis, discusses the ongoing debates around this diagnosis, reviews and critiques the scientific literature supporting the diagnosis, and discusses the appropriateness of testimony related to SBS/AHT under the Daubert standard. The full text article is available for free download by clicking the “download this paper” button.
NPR investigative report from June 29, 2011 by Joseph Shapiro. Link contains audio and text.
PBS Frontline, ProPublica and NPR investigation from June 28, 2011 on sudden child deaths and the scientific research that has shown that investigations have been mishandled by medical examiners and coroners. This link contains a 30 minute documentary that can be watched online as well as articles and interviews on the topic
- Science-Dependent Prosecution and the Problem of Epistemic Contingency: A Study of Shaken Baby Syndrome
Law review article by Deborah Tuerkheimer that describes the trajectory of Shaken Baby Syndrome in criminal courts and critiques how criminal justice evolves in the wake of scientific change.
by Emily Bazelon, New York Times Magazine
by W. Goldsmith and J. Plunkett, Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2004 Jun; 25(2):89-100.
by Shawna S. Mudd and Jeanne S. Findlay, J Pediatr Health Care. (2004). 18,123-129. Contact Sarah Rackley Olson about how to view the full text of this article.
by M. Olivia Titus, Amy L. Baxter, and Suzanne P. Starling in Pediatrics 111(2):e191. (2003). This article evaluates accidental burn injuries similar to those found in inflicted injury and discusses information needed to distinguish the causes.
US DOJ guide on investigative techniques, using the presence of sexually transmitted disease, and identifying and eliminating suspects in sexual abuse cases.
US DOJ publication that gives information used by law enforcement officers and medical professionals to distinguish intentional burns from accidental contact. It includes descriptions of injuries and interviewing questions.
by J. Plunkett. Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2001 Mar 22(1):1-12.
Provides general information about how law enforcement officers and medical professionals evaluate whether an injury, including fractures and burns, was intentional or accidental. It was published in 2000 in the American Family Physician.
From the Blog
- Murder charges were dropped recently against a father in Randolph County charged with the death of his 11-week-old daughter. The baby’s treating physician indicated the death was caused by shaking or blunt force trauma. The defendant spent 158 days in jail prior to the charges being dismissed. The charges were dismissed when the forensic pathologist, …
- For the past decade, the theory of shaken baby syndrome has been under attack. See here and here. In January, the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois granted Defendant Jennifer Del Prete’s habeas corpus petition where her conviction for first degree murder was based on faulty evidence of shaken baby syndrome. Del …
- New Research on Shaken Baby Syndrome, 7/21/2011New research by Canadian pathologist Evan Matshes challenges the opinion that death from shaking is due to brain trauma characterized by the “traditional triad” of injuries: subdural bleeding, retinal bleeding and brain swelling. His research, published in the July 2011 edition of the journal of American Forensic Pathology (available here: Shaken infants die of neck …
- Cognitive bias in forensic pathology decisions, Journal of Forensic Sciences
PBS Frontline (1997). Summary of the Little Rascal Daycare Case.
Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1461, 2019 by Keith Findley et al. This article, coauthored by four law professors, two physicians, and a physicist, demonstrates that there is very much a live controversy about the SBS/AHT hypothesis and maintains that, under traditional principles of Evidence law, physicians should not be permitted to “diagnose” abuse in court (as opposed to identifying specific symptoms or medical findings). Paper is available for free download.
- Webinar: Abusive Head Trauma, Godoy Medical ForensicsFree to attend live webinar
- Presenter: John Helminski. Offered by IDS, on June 25, 2020. Materials are available.
This Forensic Technology Center of Excellence webinar will cover alternate light, its characteristics, and its behavior in response to potential bruises. The program will summarize the available research, including a recently completed study, on the effectiveness of alternate light as a tool for improving bruise detection. Participants will learn to recognize considerations for the clinical application of alternate light, particularly in the areas of forensic photography and medico-legal interpretation.
CMEP has developed a statewide network of providers who perform medical and psychological assessments of children referred by DSS agencies. This website contains information about the program and other resources.
UNC School of Government blog post by Jessica Smith
UNC School of Government blog post by Jessica Smith
Lyon, Thomas D. (in press). Investigative interviewing of the child. In D.N.
Duquette & A.M. Haralambie (Eds.) Child Welfare Law and Practice (2d Ed.).
Denver, CO: Bradford.
In this County Court (Monroe County, New York) case, Judge James J. Piampiano ordered a new trial for the defendant, who was previously convicted of Murder in the Second Degree, holding that newly discovered evidence regarding Shaken Baby Syndrome warranted vacatur. The court concluded that expert witness testimony based on a shift in medical consensus surrounding head injuries in children constituted “new evidence” of such character as to create a probability that the result would change if a new trial was granted. The court also characterized proffered testimony of a daycare worker who had not testified at trial as “credible and compelling,” but found it unnecessary to address whether or not this testimony constituted new evidence. People v. Bailey, 47 Misc.3d 355 (2014)*.
*An appeal, linked here, was filed by the State challenging the finding that the proffered medical testimony constituted new evidence. The 2014 judgement was unanimously affirmed.
In this Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case, Justice C.J. Gants held that the defendant was denied her right to effective assistance of counsel when her attorney failed to seek public funds in order to retain an expert witness to offer an opinion as to the cause of head injuries sustained by defendant’s infant child. The prosecution’s case at trial rested almost entirely on expert medical testimony and by failing to present the jury with the other side of the debate among the medical community surrounding the “triad” of symptoms associated with Shaken Baby Syndrome, the defendant’s attorney deprived her of a substantial defense that would otherwise have been available. Com. v. Millien, 474 Mass. 417 (2016).
This 2014 NY decision grants a new trial to the Defendant. The decision describes how new medical research casts doubts on the Shaken Baby Syndrome hypothesis and shows that short falls (which this case involved) can cause death.
662 F.3d 897 (2011).
1983 claim where 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recognizes an interim lucid period between shaking and collapse
Child Abuse Allegations in the News
- ‘They Really Wanted to See My Baby Get Taken Away’, by Irin Carmon, New York Magazine, 3/21/2023
- A Black family fights to get their kids back from Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, by Anita Wadhwani, Tennessee Lookout, 3/16/2023
- A star witness recanted. But Tasha Shelby is still imprisoned for “shaken baby syndrome” junk science, by Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg, The Appeal, 10/19/2022
- A Judge Says Shaken-Baby Cases Rely on ‘Junk Science’, by C.J. Ciaramella, Reason, 8/1/2022
- Faulty Forensic Tests on Newborns Send Women to Prison, The Crime Report, 6/23/2022
- New Texas law aims to protect parents wrongly accused of child abuse, by Mike Hixenbaugh and Keri Blakinger, NBC, 6/21/2021
- Doctor removed from expert role in diagnosing child abuse amid questions about her credibility, by Mike Hixenbaugh and Taylor Mirfendereski, NBC, 3/25/2021
- Opinion: Study finds cognitive bias in how medical examiners evaluate child deaths, by Radley Balko, Washington Post, 2/20/2021
Child Abuse Allegations Experts
- Richard Azizkhan, MD, Omaha, NE
- Daniel R. Beerman, MDiv, MSW, ACSW, Fairview, NC
- Nancy Berson, LCSW, Chapel Hill, NC
- John H. Blackshear, Ph.D., Durham, NC
- Cynthia J. Brown, MD, Asheville, NC
- Maggie Bruck, Ph.D., Baltimore, MD
- Allyson Cordoni, APRN, CNP, SANE-A, SANE-P, Sanford, NC
- Michael DeBellis, MD, Durham, NC
- John Fairbank, Ph.D., Durham, NC
- Steven C. Gabaeff, MD, Healdsburg, CA
- Eugenia Gullick, Ph.D., Charlotte, NC
- John Helminski, Psy.D., ABPP, Morrisville, NC
- Amy D. James, PsyD, New Bern, NC
- Amie Koch, DNP, FNP-C, RN, ACHPN, Durham, NC
- Patrick Lantz, MD, Winston-Salem, NC
- Matthew Mendel, Ph.D., Raleigh, NC
- Sarah Monahan-Estes, MD, Asheville, NC
- George R. Nichols II, MD, Louisville, KY
- Jerry W. Noble, Ph.D., Asheville, NC
- Janice Ophoven, MD, Woodbury, MN
- Bonnie Price, MSN, RN, Richmond, VA
- Christena Roberts, MD, Black Mountain, NC
- Jennifer Sapia, Ph.D., Raleigh, Asheville and Southport, NC
- Michael Tennison, MD, Chapel Hill, NC
- Madalyn E. Tyson, Ph.D., Charlotte, NC
- Chris Van Ee, Ph.D., P.E., Novi, MI
Additional InfoAllyson Cordoni has over 20 years of experience in the field of nursing. She has conducted sexual assault exams on adults and children and provided professional training and consultation to many sexual assault prevention and response teams for the Department of Defense and civilian population. She has authored several peer-reviewed articles and provides expert testimony in the areas of sexual assault, domestic violence, pediatric sexual assault, interpersonal violence and strangulation.