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Flawed Convictions


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter One: A Medical Diagnosis of Crime The Prosecution Paradigm The Lure of Blame Chapter Two: Complications Scrutiny The New SBS Doubtful Convictions Chapter Three: The Triad Endures Today's SBS Child Abuse Specialization Prosecutorial Certainty Staying Power Chapter Four: Trials Deciding Guilt Case on Trial Chapter Five: Missed Diagnosis Diagnostic Error A Legal Perspective on Differential Diagnosis Anatomy of a Missed Diagnosis Chapter Six: Confessions Non-Confession Confessions Unreliable Confessions Inside the Interrogation Room Chapter Seven: Fluky Justice Acquittals Dismissals No-Arrest Cases Chapter Eight: Guilty Pleas A System in Flux When Innocents Plead Guilty The Meaning of Lopsided Pleas Chapter Nine: The Limits of Judicial Review Sufficiency Challenges Collateral Attack Chapter Ten: Reform Improving Medical Outcomes Upstream Innocence Protection Downstream Innocence Protection AFTERWORD INDEX

About the Author

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 years as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney's Office, where she specialized in domestic violence and child abuse prosecution.


"Deborah Tuerkheimer's Flawed Convictions is a brilliant and timely book that meticulously presents a clear, comprehensive, and thoughtful analysis of the evolution of "shaken baby syndrome" homicide prosecutions, their impact on innocent caregivers, and the failure of the American legal system to self-correct in the face of staggering evidence of its biases and errors. It is a shocking indictment of how one form of junk science has led to scores of wrongful convictions and destroyed hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent lives and families. Tuerkheimer provides important historical context, a framework for understanding the roots of the problem as well as its persistence, and a roadmap out of the current quagmire. Flawed Convictions is an invaluable book that, well-heeded, will help prevent future miscarriages of justice." -Richard A. Leo, Dean's Circle Research Scholar and Professor, University of San Francisco School of Law "Flawed Convictions is a brave and eye-opening expose of the wrongful convictions of innocent caregivers in the death of a child based on 'shaken baby syndrome' (SBS). With meticulous research and gripping excerpts from police interrogations and criminal trials, Deborah Tuerkheimer traces the disturbing progression of SBS, from the scientific origins of the diagnosis to its role as a prosecution paradigm in child homicide cases. She uncovers major flaws in the criminal justice system, and offers a variety of reforms that have the potential to end the misuse of SBS, while reminding us of the reluctance of prosecutors to admit they were wrong. Flawed Convictions is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding how grave errors occur in the criminal justice system and what it will take to correct them." -Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law & Sociology, and Sadie & Raymond Pace Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, University of Pennsylvania "This masterful interdisciplinary work is both a trenchant history and a roadmap toward sensible reform. Required reading for those who care about public health, criminal justice, and abused children." -Barry Scheck, Professor of Law, Cardozo Law School, Co-Director, Innocence Project "Law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer's new book, Flawed Convictions: "Shaken Baby Syndrome" and the Inertia of Injustice, comprehensively and neatly describes the evolution of the SBS medical hypothesis-how it emerged, became entrenched in both the medical and legal communities, then unraveled under the scrutiny of evidenced-based medicine, shifted in form but still persists-and the problematic ways it is used in criminal cases. The book takes a hard and honest look at the issues that increasingly divided doctors and challenge the legal system's ability to adapt to the changing medical and scientific evidence upon which the legal system is increasingly dependent." -Keith A. Findley and Barry Scheck, American Bar Association Criminal Justice Magazine "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 "Tuerkheimer provides a convincing and well-written intellectual analysis of the problem...Tuerkheimer's book will be an eye-opening experience for anyone interested in understanding the controversy surrounding prosecution of SBS and the role of science in the courtroom." -Theodore P. Cross and Rebecca Fajnzylber, PsycCRITIQUES, American Psychological Association "Tuerkheimer's account encompasses medical research, forensic science, child advocates, law enforcement, and prosecutorial tactics. Her stories engage and propel the book. In terms of style, Tuerkheimer writes with conviction, makes her points, and then keeps making them." -Jon M. Sands and Rachelle Jones-Rowe, Jurimetrics "As a history of SBS, Tuerkheimer's book is the definitive account. She has traced the waxing and waning of a forensic explanation from criteria that raised questions to a syndrome that was unquestioned to now an explanation that can be flawed, and can only be used with skepticism and care. No certainty exists. Tuerkheimer's account encompasses medical research, forensic science, child advocates, law enforcement, and prosecutorial tactics." --Jurimetrics, The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU

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