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
by W. Goldsmith and J. Plunkett, Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2004 Jun; 25(2):89-100.
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 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.
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.
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.
by J. Plunkett. Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2001 Mar 22(1):1-12.
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.
US DOJ guide to conducting an investigation of child injuries.
NPR investigative report from June 29, 2011 by Joseph Shapiro. Link contains audio and text.
- 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.
US DOJ guide on investigative techniques, using the presence of sexually transmitted disease, and identifying and eliminating suspects in sexual abuse cases.
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.
by Emily Bazelon, New York Times Magazine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guide that teaches techniques for investigating child deaths, including scene investigation, interview techniques, and reporting practices for investigators.
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
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.
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).
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 …
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.
UNC School of Government blog post by Jessica Smith
UNC School of Government blog post by Jessica Smith
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.
662 F.3d 897 (2011).
1983 claim where 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recognizes an interim lucid period between shaking and collapse
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.
Child Abuse Allegations in the News
- Death Row Conviction Overturned: Coroner’s Revised Opinion Says Baby’s Injuries Consistent With Accident (IL), by Laura French, Forensic Magazine, 5/6/2019
- Prosecutors Dropping Child Porn Charges After Software Tools Are Questioned, by Jack Gillum, ProPublica, 4/3/2019
- The Child-Abuse Contrarian, by David Armstrong, The New Yorker, 9/26/2018
- Consensus Statement on Abusive Head Trauma Seeks to Dispel Courtroom ‘Misconceptions’, by Laura French, Forensic Magazine, 6/1/2018
- Dr. John Plunkett, RIP. He told the truth about bad forensics — and was prosecuted for it., by Radley Balko, Washington Post, 4/10/2018
- Charges dropped against man in death of 11-week-old girl in Archdale, by Fox8, 3/6/2018
- Murder charge dropped in “shaken baby” case, by Larry Penkava, Courier Tribune, 3/6/2018
- Flawed drug tests used to remove scores of Canadian children from their parents, report finds, by Kyle Swenson, The Washington Post, 2/27/2018
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
- Sharon Cooper, MD, FAAP, Fort Bragg, NC
- Michael DeBellis, MD, Durham, NC
- John Fairbank, Ph.D., Durham, NC
- Eugenia Gullick, Ph.D., Charlotte, NC
- John Helminski, Psy.D., ABPP, Morrisville, NC
- Amy D. James, PsyD, New Bern, NC
- H.D. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., Charlotte, NC
- Patrick Lantz, MD, Winston-Salem, NC
- Jan E. Leestma, MD, Chicago, IL
- 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
- John Plunkett, M.D., Welch, MN
- Bonnie Price, MSN, RN, Richmond, VA
- Christena Roberts, MD, Black Mountain, NC
- Jennifer Sapia, Ph.D., Southport, NC
- Faye Sultan, Ph.D., Davidson, NC
- Michael Tennison, MD, Chapel Hill, NC
- Madalyn E. Tyson, Ph.D., Charlotte, NC
- Chris Van Ee, Ph.D., P.E., Novi, MI
- John Warren, III, Ph.D., PA-C, Winston-Salem, NC
- Rebecca J. Wheeler, RN, CPEN, CN III, Chapel Hill, NC