In 2013, I tried a shaken baby syndrome case in which the jury came back, finding my client not guilty of all charges. The case was harrowing and high stakes. Had she been convicted, my client would’ve faced something on the order of six to seven years in prison. That was before North Carolina increased the possible punishment for child abuse to more like 10 to 12 years.
While I’ll be the first to admit that child abuse occurs, it is quite clear that the evidence of a particular syndrome – whether it’s called Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), Intentional Infliction of Head Trauma (IHT) or Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) – is now being reviewed by the scientific community.
What we’re now learning is that for 30 years, the medicine behind what was called Shaken Baby Syndrome is flawed. In fact, the New York Times ran a series last year that described the doubts now emerging among scientists about whether Shaken Baby Syndrome is really indicative (or proof of) abuse.