Friday, December 15, 2017

U.S. Coast Guardsman Jimmy Barlow Found Not Guilty of Child Endangerment In Connection to death of 3-year-old daughter..."Barlow’s defense team, however, argued a guilty verdict would set a dangerous precedent. “There’s nothing worse than losing a child, except for losing a child and being falsely accused for that death,” Vokey said. Vokey likened the case against his client to a tree that grew from a diseased seed. You can’t tell there’s anything wrong with it, but if you were to look inside, you would find it hollow and diseased, he said. The diseased seed was planted, Vokey said, when first responders and police quickly concluded Eden’s injuries were suspicious. Vokey said it was compounded when the medical staff at Children’s Hospital Oakland “made the leap” that child abuse factored into Eden’s condition because they found unusual bruising and brain trauma they could not explain. Although the Alameda County coroner’s report stated Eden’s cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head, several medical experts who testified for the defense disputed those findings."


QUOTE OF THE DAY: "There’s nothing worse than losing a child, except for losing a child and being falsely accused for that death."

Defence lawyer Colby Volkey;

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STORY: "Coast Guardsman Jimmy Barlow Found Not Guilty of Child Endangerment In Connection to Daughter’s Death," published by NBC (The Bay) on December 15, 2017.

GIST: "A military judge found United States Coast Guard Petty Officer Jimmy Barlow not guilty Thursday on multiple counts of child endangerment in connection to the death of his 3-year-old daughter Eden Lynch more than six years ago. Barlow elected to have a bench trial, which is why a judge, rather than a jury, determined the verdict. “It wasn’t surprising at all,” said Barlow’s defense attorney Colby Vokey, a retired lieutenant colonel from the United States Marine Corps. “Grateful justice was done, but not surprising at all given the evidence.”......... Eden’s biological mother Erica Lynch, who lost custody of Eden in early 2011 while dealing with Eden collapsed at the Alameda apartment Barlow shared with his girlfriend, now wife, Holli Barlow in August 2011 while Jimmy was on duty. Holli told first responders that Eden had been acting strange all morning, and her collapse may have been related to a fall down the concrete stairs outside the couple’s apartment the week before. But first responders and hospital staff were suspicious of cuts and bruises they found on Eden’s face, neck and chest area and alerted police of suspected abuse. In the weeks following Eden’s death, the Alameda County coroner ruled her death a homicide and listed the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head. Although the Alameda police investigation into Jimmy and Holli seemed to stall, Jimmy was charged on four counts of child endangerment by Coast Guard prosecutors in the fall of 2016. Holli was arrested in September and is currently facing a felony count of child abuse for failing to obtain medical care for Eden in Alameda County Superior Court. She was released on bail and has not entered a plea. She attended most of Jimmy’s trial and exercised her Fifth Amendment right not to testify when she was called as a witness by prosecutors earlier in the trial. On the morning before the verdict, both sides made final appeals to Judge Matthew Fay during closing arguments. “This case is not about assigning blame, it’s about accountability,” said Coast Guard prosecutor Lt. Cmdr. Geralyn Van de Krol. “It’s not about perfect parenting, it’s about the reasonable actions when a person is assigned care for the life of a 3-year-old.” Prosecutors argued Barlow failed to provide care for Eden by not seeking medical attention and leaving her in Holli’s care despite seeing bruises and scratches on the toddler’s face, neck and chest area, and being told that Eden had been “acting slow,” the morning of her death. “Mrs. Barlow repeatedly minimized injuries and delayed notification,” Van de Krol said. Van de Krol repeatedly referenced text messages displayed earlier in the trial that portrayed Holli as a stressed out, hot-tempered caregiver who was resentful that Jimmy placed the responsibility of Eden’s child care on her while she also raised her own daughter and attended school. Van de Krol also said Jimmy repeatedly ignored troubling behavior Eden exhibited in the days leading up to her collapse, such as banging her head against the wall, pulling her hair, urinating and defecating on herself, and attempting to eat her own feces. Instead of seeking professional care for Eden, Van de Krol said, “They’re just kind of winging it.” In the end, Van de Krol argued Jimmy should be found guilty because he had enough evidence to suggest that not seeking medical attention and leaving Eden in Holli’s care would cause her to suffer foreseeable harm. “He abandoned his legal and arguably his moral duty to protect his 3-year-old daughter Eden Lynch,” Van de Krol said. Barlow’s defense team, however, argued a guilty verdict would set a dangerous precedent. “There’s nothing worse than losing a child, except for losing a child and being falsely accused for that death,” Vokey said. Vokey likened the case against his client to a tree that grew from a diseased seed. You can’t tell there’s anything wrong with it, but if you were to look inside, you would find it hollow and diseased, he said. The diseased seed was planted, Vokey said, when first responders and police quickly concluded Eden’s injuries were suspicious. Vokey said it was compounded when the medical staff at Children’s Hospital Oakland “made the leap” that child abuse factored into Eden’s condition because they found unusual bruising and brain trauma they could not explain. Although the Alameda County coroner’s report stated Eden’s cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head, several medical experts who testified for the defense disputed those findings."

The entire story can be found at:
https://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/US-Coast-Guardsman-Jimmy-Barlow-Found-Not-Guilty-of-Child-Endangerment-In-Connection-to-Daughters-Death-464295373.html

"PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

False confessions: (Part three): Brendan Dassey.Wisconsin: Setback: Appeals court has ruled for the State that his confession was not coerced...(Link to ruling provided)... (But at least there is a dissenting opinion: 30 pages of the 70-page ruling.)..."In her dissent, Judge Ann Claire Williams writes in part, "No reasonable state court, knowing what we now know about coercive interrogation techniques and viewing Dassey's interrogation in light of his age, intellectual deficits, and manipulability, could possibly have concluded that Dassey's confession was voluntarily given.... His confession was not voluntary and his conviction should not stand, and yet an impaired teenager has been sentenced to life in prison. I view this as a profound miscarriage of justice.")


QUOTE OF THE DAY: "No reasonable state court, knowing what we now know about coercive interrogation techniques and viewing Dassey's interrogation in light of his age, intellectual deficits, and manipulability, could possibly have concluded that Dassey's confession was voluntarily given.... His confession was not voluntary and his conviction should not stand, and yet an impaired teenager has been sentenced to life in prison. I view this as a profound miscarriage of justice."

Dissenting justice Ann Clair Williams;

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PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Charles Smith Blog  is interested in false confessions because of the disturbing number of exonerations in the USA, Canada and multiple other jurisdictions throughout the world, where, in the absence of incriminating forensic evidence the conviction is based on self-incrimination – and because of the growing body of  scientific research showing how vulnerable suspects    (especially juveniles)  are to widely used interrogation methods  such as  the notorious ‘Reid Technique.’

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

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STORY: "Appeals court rules for State, says Dassey's confession was not coerced,"  published by WBAY on December 8, 2017.

GIST  "Brendan Dassey is not getting out of prison anytime soon. In a split 4-3 ruling Friday, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals denied his appeal, refuting a lower court ruling that said Dassey's confession was coerced. Fifteen months ago a federal court in Milwaukee overturned Dassey's conviction that he murdered Teresa Halbach in 2005 with his uncle Steven Avery. Dassey was 16 when Halbach was killed. Court records show he also had an IQ of 74 and was taking special education classes in high school. U.S. Magistrate Judge William Duffin said repeated false promises by detectives, when considered with other factors like Dassey's age, intellectual deficits and the absence of a supportive adult, led him to determine that Dassey's confession was involuntary under the U.S. Constitution. The appellate court addresses these issues, agreeing those "factors would tend to support a finding that Dassey's confession was not voluntary." But the majority ruling points to other factors that the confession was voluntary: Speaking with investigators freely, understanding the Miranda warnings, having his mother's consent. "Dassey provided many of the most damning details himself in response to open-ended questions. On a number of occasions he resisted the interrogators' strong suggestions on particular details." While there are times during the police interview Dassey seems to be guessing what he thinks detectives want to hear, the ruling says, there are other times he holds firm, such as knowing Halbach didn't have a tattoo on her stomach when police tested his suggestibility by saying she did. The majority ruling states, "Whether Dassey's confession was voluntary or not is measured against a general standard that takes into account the totality of the circumstances." The dissenting opinion takes 30 pages of the 70-page ruling. In her dissent, Judge Ann Claire Williams writes in part, "No reasonable state court, knowing what we now know about coercive interrogation techniques and viewing Dassey's interrogation in light of his age, intellectual deficits, and manipulability, could possibly have concluded that Dassey's confession was voluntarily given.... His confession was not voluntary and his conviction should not stand, and yet an impaired teenager has been sentenced to life in prison. I view this as a profound miscarriage of justice." In a statement to Action 2 News, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel wrote, "I’m gratified that the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of habeas. Today’s decision is a testament to the talent of the attorneys at the Wisconsin Department of Justice who have worked tirelessly to deliver justice for the family and friends of Teresa Halbach over the last decade." Laura Nirider and Steven Drizin of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth were on Dassey's defense team for his appeals. Nirider gave this statement to Action 2 News for both of them. We are profoundly disappointed by the decision of four judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to reverse two prior decisions and deny relief to Brendan Dassey. Like many around the globe, we share the view of the three judges who wrote, in dissent, that today’s ruling represents a “profound miscarriage of justice.” We intend to continue pursuing relief for Brendan, including through a petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. Today’s ruling contravenes a fundamental and time-honored position of the United States Supreme Court: interrogation tactics that may not be coercive when applied to adults are coercive when applied to children and the mentally impaired. Indeed, when such tactics are applied to vulnerable populations, the risk of false confession grows intolerably. Unfortunately, this time-worn lesson was ignored today by four judges in the case of Brendan Dassey. We at the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth are committed to continuing to fight on behalf of Brendan and others like him to prevent future miscarriages of justice. Trial lawyer Jerome Buting tweeted "The illusion of justice continues with the horrific decision of 4 judges."" Kathleen Zellner, who is Avery's attorney in his latest appeal, tweeted Friday afternoon: "Seventh Circuit rules against Brendan Dassey. No one promised this would be easy." She added the hashtag #Onward."

The entire story can be read at:
http://www.wbay.com/content/news/Appeals-court-denies-Dassey-appeal-says-confession-was-not-coerced-462864823.html

 CLICK HERE to download the court ruling (PDF format)

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Jimmy Barlow: California: On-going trial; Coast guard petty officer maintains 3-year-old daughter's death was the result of injuries related to slow brain bleed triggered by a fall down the stairs outside his apartment more than a week before she collapsed. Prosecution is based on coronor's finding of homicide: Blunt force trauma to the head. Defence experts believe Barlow has been falsely accused: Case continues: "Dr. Shoukimas affirmed he believes Jimmy Barlow has been falsely accused and said if his own grandchild fell down stairs he would be afraid to take that child to the hospital, for fear of being accused of abuse. He said he has declined to testify in the majority of cases brought to him and added, “The only cases I get involved with are ones where there’s a reasonable way to exclude abuse.” The defense also called Dr. Kris Sperry to the stand as a board certified expert in forensic, clinical and anatomical pathology. He told military judge Matthew Fay this was the 743rd time he has testified live in a court trial. Dr. Sperry echoed the opinion of Dr. Shoukimas, that he saw “extremely severe swelling of the entire brain edema … but no evidence of other impact,” and that he also believed Eden had a seizure that caused her tongue to block her airway and deprive her brain of oxygen, which led it to swell."


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "On Monday, defense attorney Colby Vokey wasted no time before trying to cast doubt on the Alameda County Coroner’s finding that Eden’s death was a homicide and the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. His first witness was Dr. Gregory Shoukimas, a board certified neuroradiologist and national expert who has testified in numerous cases on behalf of defendants accused of child abuse. He said he reviewed roughly 10,000 pages of documentation related to the case, including medical records, CT scans, and interviews of Barlow and his girlfriend, now wife, Holli, who is also facing a felony child abuse charge in Alameda County. Dr. Shoukimas testified Eden’s CT scan showed two things: a brain bleed, or subdural hematoma, and brain swelling. But the doctor said it was unclear when the subdural hematoma occurred or how long Eden’s brain had been bleeding. He testified that based on his review of the records, he believes “respiratory arrest can cause this type of brain trauma,” establishing the defense’s theory that Eden suffered some type of seizure due to the brain bleeding and that brain bleed could have been the result of Eden’s reported fall down several concrete steps about a week prior to her collapse. “My understanding is Holli had gone to the car, and Eden had followed her. She tripped and fell onto her head. She fell approximately 4 feet. A fall from 8 feet onto a hard surface is significant enough to cause a subdural injury,” Dr. Shoukimas said. “A subdural hematoma of this size can be completely asymptomatic,” the doctor said, indicating Eden may not have exhibited any signs that anything was wrong before she eventually collapsed and lost consciousness on Aug. 31. Eden never recovered and was declared dead Sept. 3, 2011. The doctor testified that Eden could have suffered seizures that led to her tongue going back into her throat and restricting her ability to breathe. “There’s a high correlation between the presence of edema and seizure activity,” Dr Shoukimas said. He disagreed with Eden’s treating physician at Children’s Hospital Oakland, Dr. James Crawford-Jacubiak, and the coroner’s ruling, who both said there was blunt force trauma to Eden’s head. When asked by defense attorney Vokey, to confirm, “No blunt force trauma, this was respiratory arrest that brought on edema?” Dr. Shoukimas replied, “Yes.”

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GIST: "Defense attorneys for 31-year-old Jimmy Barlow, a petty officer with the U.S. Coast Guard, opened their case Monday by asking the judge to dismiss the four counts of child endangerment against Barlow on the grounds there wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge him in connection to the homicide death of his 3-year-old daughter Eden. But the judge ruled against the motion and allowed the case to continue. Coast Guard prosecutors rested their case Saturday, calling Rhonda Lynch, Eden’s maternal grandmother, as their final witness. “We all played a large role in raising her,” Lynch said, “She was a happy, joyful, bossy, sassy, fun child. She made us laugh every day.” Lynch said she co-raised Eden for the first two-and-a-half years of her life with her husband Eric and her daughter Erica at their Southern California home. “Eden’s behavior was extremely normal,” Lynch said. “My husband used to say she was smarter than both our kids put together.” Lynch also told the court that Eden had been potty trained between January and February of 2011 and that during a camping trip in July of that year, Eden never wore a diaper. The day before Eden’s collapse, evidence shows she urinated on herself on four separate occasions. She also defecated on herself and smeared the feces on her face. Coast Guard prosecutors argued the unusual behavior should have been cause for concern for Jimmy and Holli Barlow, and they should have sought medical attention. However, Barlow says that Eden was having routine issues with potty training and sometimes had to be put in a diaper, so the incidents were not particularly alarming to him. Testimony the day before from Matthew Murillo, Holli’s ex-boyfriend and the father of their daughter, shed light on Holli as a mother. Murillo, an attorney, said he and Holli lived together from 2007 to 2009, but Holli went back to live with her mother when the couple split. Murillo testified he met Jimmy Barlow sometime around 2010 or 2011 and that he thought he was nice, quiet and reserved. He said Barlow’s daughter Eden, and his daughter got along well and liked each other. He called Eden “a good kid, really sweet” and recalled she didn’t have any behavioral issues. Murillo said Tuesday, Aug. 30, he went to pick up his daughter from BART and that’s when he noticed Eden had feces on her face. He said he told Holli about it and later followed up with her to check on Eden. Murillo testified Holli texted him earlier that month to say she enjoyed life with their daughter as an only child. But Murillo said the text message did not concern him because he figured she was just adjusting to becoming a caregiver for Jimmy’s daughter Eden. When cross-examined by Barlow’s defense team, Murillo said he never saw Holli lose her temper with either of the kids and that she was an overprotective mom. Holli’s mom, Dianna de Alba, also testified Friday that Holli was a great mom. She said they had a birthday party for Eden at her house in Vallejo and that Eden was well cared for. But when questioned by the prosecution, de Alba said, “I don’t know” and “I don’t remember” in response to several questions about whether the couple ever sought professional health care for Eden or if they explored what was “scaring” the toddler after she began screaming when people left, refused to eat anything except soft food and expressed fear. De Alba also did not recall whether she saw any bruises on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2011, when Eden went with her and Holli to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Eden collapsed three days later on Aug. 31 while in Holli’s care, never regaining consciousness. Her death was ruled a homicide, caused by blunt force trauma to the head. Following Dianna de Alba’s testimony, the court heard from two key witnesses for the prosecution: Social worker Alma Hernandez and Alameda police Detective Sean Lynch (who is not related to Eden Lynch.) Hernandez testified about the day Eden was rushed to Children’s Hospital Oakland, where Jimmy Barlow repeated his account of how Eden had fallen down the stairs. She testified, “In the subsequent days they saw abnormal behavior: banging her head on the wall, that she had choked herself with a necklace and rubbed feces on herself. They did not seek care after those events because she had exhibited that kind of behavior when she had first moved in, and that had subsided,” and said, “As a social worker, it was concerning to me that prior medical attention had not been sought.” Detective Lynch, who testified he has handled at least 100 homicides in his career before retiring in 2012, said Jimmy and Holli Barlow voluntarily agreed to an interview with Lynch in November 2011. From the witness stand, Lynch said he wanted to notify Barlow that the coroner had ruled Eden’s death a homicide. Lynch said Barlow’s response was extremely impassive and that he showed no emotion. Lynch testified, “Every single time I tell a parent their child has been murdered, they ask me who did it. Barlow did not.” The prosecution played an audio recording of the interview in the court-martial, as Lynch pressed Barlow for details about Eden’s death. In the recording, Lynch can be heard telling Barlow that it was either Jimmy or Holli that killed Eden, and he didn’t believe it was Jimmy. Lynch said he asked Jimmy to explain what happened. “Help us out, Jimmy. We don’t want to arrest two people.” But Barlow did not offer any further details beyond what he had previously told investigators: That he believed Eden’s death was the result of injuries related to slow brain bleed triggered by a fall down the stairs outside his apartment more than a week before she collapsed. On Monday, defense attorney Colby Vokey wasted no time before trying to cast doubt on the Alameda County Coroner’s finding that Eden’s death was a homicide and the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. His first witness was Dr. Gregory Shoukimas, a board certified neuroradiologist and national expert who has testified in numerous cases on behalf of defendants accused of child abuse. He said he reviewed roughly 10,000 pages of documentation related to the case, including medical records, CT scans, and interviews of Barlow and his girlfriend, now wife, Holli, who is also facing a felony child abuse charge in Alameda County. Dr. Shoukimas testified Eden’s CT scan showed two things: a brain bleed, or subdural hematoma, and brain swelling. But the doctor said it was unclear when the subdural hematoma occurred or how long Eden’s brain had been bleeding. He testified that based on his review of the records, he believes “respiratory arrest can cause this type of brain trauma,” establishing the defense’s theory that Eden suffered some type of seizure due to the brain bleeding and that brain bleed could have been the result of Eden’s reported fall down several concrete steps about a week prior to her collapse. “My understanding is Holli had gone to the car, and Eden had followed her. She tripped and fell onto her head. She fell approximately 4 feet. A fall from 8 feet onto a hard surface is significant enough to cause a subdural injury,” Dr. Shoukimas said. “A subdural hematoma of this size can be completely asymptomatic,” the doctor said, indicating Eden may not have exhibited any signs that anything was wrong before she eventually collapsed and lost consciousness on Aug. 31. Eden never recovered and was declared dead Sept. 3, 2011. The doctor testified that Eden could have suffered seizures that led to her tongue going back into her throat and restricting her ability to breathe. “There’s a high correlation between the presence of edema and seizure activity,” Dr Shoukimas said. He disagreed with Eden’s treating physician at Children’s Hospital Oakland, Dr. James Crawford-Jacubiak, and the coroner’s ruling, who both said there was blunt force trauma to Eden’s head. When asked by defense attorney Vokey, to confirm, “No blunt force trauma, this was respiratory arrest that brought on edema?” Dr. Shoukimas replied, “Yes.” Prosecutors cross examined Dr. Shoukimas and asked if he could definitively say when the bleeding of the brain occurred, to which he responded he could not. They pointed out he has given presentations for the National Child Abuse Defense and Resource Center, which is an organization that fights on behalf of falsely accused child abusers. Dr. Shoukimas affirmed he believes Jimmy Barlow has been falsely accused and said if his own grandchild fell down stairs he would be afraid to take that child to the hospital, for fear of being accused of abuse. He said he has declined to testify in the majority of cases brought to him and added, “The only cases I get involved with are ones where there’s a reasonable way to exclude abuse.” The defense also called Dr. Kris Sperry to the stand as a board certified expert in forensic, clinical and anatomical pathology. He told military judge Matthew Fay this was the 743rd time he has testified live in a court trial. Dr. Sperry echoed the opinion of Dr. Shoukimas, that he saw “extremely severe swelling of the entire brain edema … but no evidence of other impact,” and that he also believed Eden had a seizure that caused her tongue to block her airway and deprive her brain of oxygen, which led it to swell. He viewed photos of bruises and scratches on Eden’s body and said the scratches “could be caused by her fingernails” and that his impression of her injuries was that they were “very superficial” and he suspected many of them were caused by first responders. “Paramedics were aggressively trying to save her life. Those marks are nothing to worry about,” he said. Dr. Sperry testified that he saw no evidence in Eden’s medical records that she had been abused. Under cross examination, prosecutors pointed out inconsistencies in Dr. Sperry’s testimony and asked if he had considered all of the information provided in Holli Barlow’s statements about Eden’s behavior prior to her collapse. Prosecutor: "If Eden had been zombie-like for two hours that would be a concern?" Dr. Sperry: "Yes." Prosecutor: "You did or did not watch the interview of Holli?" Dr. Sperry: "I don’t remember." The prosecutor read a quote from Holli’s statement to investigators that on the morning of her collapse, Eden “was just sitting there depressed like staring at the wall for like two hours,” asking if it would be concerning to Dr. Sperry if he knew that. “I, as a professional, would want to know a lot more,” Sperry answered. The defense is expected to call six to eight more witnesses to the stand Tuesday.""

The entire story can be read at:
https://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Prosecutors-Rest-Case-Defense-Presents-Theory-of-What-Happened-to-Cause-Death-of-USCG-Members-Young-Daughter-463758923.html

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

False confessions (Part 2): Reid technique: Hamilton Ontario ceiminal lawyer Jeff Manishen on why "The Reid Technique is problematic," in The Law Times..."The Reid technique instructs investigators to engage in “behaviour symptom analysis,” relying on patterns of conduct that supposedly indicate whether or not the suspect is telling the truth. The interrogation begins with the investigator asserting his absolute certainty of the suspect’s guilt. The suspect is relentlessly pushed to accept culpability. Moral justifications may be proffered (for example, that the suspect experienced abuse as a child, or that they inflicted the injuries unintentionally). The suspect may be confronted with exaggerated or fabricated evidence. They may be told that the proof of their guilt is incontrovertible, given that all other suspects had been cleared. The investigator may present two alternative versions of the suspect’s conduct, one of which is significantly worse than the other, and encourage the suspect to adopt the less serious model. A suspect who remains silent or continues to deny involvement may be faced with an investigator unwilling to accept that position, confronting him with the investigator’s theory of what “really” happened and endeavouring to overcome any reluctance to confess."..." One may wonder why some police services continue to use such questionable methods, given the risk of wrongful convictions, unsuccessful prosecutions and the attendant failure to investigate and apprehend the real perpetrators. It can’t be for a lack of alternatives." is problematic | Law Times


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Charles Smith Blog  is interested in false confessions because of the disturbing number of exonerations in the USA, Canada and multiple other jurisdictions throughout the world, where, in the absence of incriminating forensic evidence the conviction is based on self-incrimination – and because of the growing body of  scientific research showing how vulnerable suspects    (especially juveniles)  are to widely used interrogation methods  such as  the notorious ‘Reid Technique.’

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

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PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Judicial commentary on the problematic aspects of this method of interrogation is going into its second decade.  I encourage members of the legal profession to add their voices to those who have urged our police services to cease utilizing the Reid technique once and for all. Let’s hope they’ll listen. Our justice system would certainly be better if they do."

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COMMENTARY: "Reid technique is problematic," by Lawyer Jeff Manishen, published by  The Law Times on December 11, 2017. (Jeffrey Manishen is a partner with Ross & McBride LLP practising criminal defence law in Hamilton.)


GIST: "In 1998, a 25-year-old unsophisticated man in Alberta was arrested for aggravated assault on his infant son. After several hours of interrogation, during which time he repeatedly denied having hurt his son, he was left in the interview room. Sobbing, he wrote out an apology and made comments like, “How could I have done this?” The investigating officers in M.J.S. [2000] A.J. No. 391 managed to overcome the suspect’s refusal to accept responsibility for the offence by the use of what is known as the Reid technique, an interrogation approach developed in the United States by John E. Reid & Associates. The Reid technique instructs investigators to engage in “behaviour symptom analysis,” relying on patterns of conduct that supposedly indicate whether or not the suspect is telling the truth. The interrogation begins with the investigator asserting his absolute certainty of the suspect’s guilt. The suspect is relentlessly pushed to accept culpability. Moral justifications may be proffered (for example, that the suspect experienced abuse as a child, or that they inflicted the injuries unintentionally). The suspect may be confronted with exaggerated or fabricated evidence.
They may be told that the proof of their guilt is incontrovertible, given that all other suspects had been cleared. The investigator may present two alternative versions of the suspect’s conduct, one of which is significantly worse than the other, and encourage the suspect to adopt the less serious model.
A suspect who remains silent or continues to deny involvement may be faced with an investigator unwilling to accept that position, confronting him with the investigator’s theory of what “really” happened and endeavouring to overcome any reluctance to confess. The trial judge was very critical of the methods used by the police on the suspect in the Alberta Provincial Court Criminal Division case, characterizing it as a “classic illustration of how slavish adherence to a technique can produce a coerced-compliant confession.” He ruled the evidence inadmissible. He also wasn’t the first to reach such conclusions in assessing the impact of the Reid technique on the admissibility of evidence and was, by no means, the last.  In R. v. Thaher, 2016 ONCJ 113, Justice Peter Andras Schreck refused to admit a Reid-based confession by a mentally ill, fatigued man accused of attempted murder and questioned for more than seven hours. Referring to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Oickle, 2000 SCC 38, [2000] 2 S.C.R. 3, Schreck characterized the method as a “shoddy police practice … shown to be coercive and to produce false confessions.”  In R. v. Goro 2017 ONSC 1236, Halton and RCMP police officers executed a warrant for footprint impressions on a man under investigation for a cold-case murder. He was never told of his right to counsel, cautioned or told he was free to leave at any time. Rather, he was interrogated for almost six hours. In the face of lengthy police monologues insisting on his guilt, he denied culpability but some of his statements could have been contradicted by forensic evidence. In the ruling, Justice Dale Fitzpatrick found it unnecessary to decide the Reid issue due to overriding Charter issues on detention. However, he stated, “[U]se of the Reid technique or something akin to it does not automatically render a statement inadmissible. . . However, the technique is inherently coercive and for that reason has been the subject of considerable judicial and academic criticism.” One may wonder why some police services continue to use such questionable methods, given the risk of wrongful convictions, unsuccessful prosecutions and the attendant failure to investigate and apprehend the real perpetrators.  It can’t be for a lack of alternatives. The investigative interviewing approach involves a thorough and objective investigation of both the offence and the suspect. It is followed by an open-ended interview where the suspect is allowed to talk freely in response to open-ended, non-confrontational questions, which has proven to be very effective in gaining admissions that don’t involve the risk of false confessions.  One such technique, known as PEACE (preparation, engagement, accounting, closure and evaluation), involves officers asking follow-up questions based on the answers given as well as other information compiled by the investigators. One need only watch the very skillful interview of Col. Russell Williams by Ontario Provincial Police detective Jim Smyth to see how a suspect may be engaged in non-confrontational dialogue, ultimately leading to false statements and a full confession to acts of murder. Several countries in Europe and elsewhere have successfully implemented the investigative interviewing method. In the United States, Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, a private agency involved in training police officers for many years, has discontinued teaching the Reid technique as a result of concerns over false confessions. While several police services in Canada have incorporated the use of investigative interviewing methods such as PEACE into their training, many have not yet chosen to discourage or discontinue the use of the Reid technique. Judicial commentary on the problematic aspects of this method of interrogation is going into its second decade.  I encourage members of the legal profession to add their voices to those who have urged our police services to cease utilizing the Reid technique once and for all. Let’s hope they’ll listen. Our justice system would certainly be better if they do.""

The entire commentary can be  at:
http://www.lawtimesnews.com/article/reid-technique-is-problematic-15070/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

False confessions: (Part 1): The Englewood Four; Harold Richardson; Vincent Thames; Terrill Swift and Michael Saunders); Illinois; Chicago proposes $31 million wrongful conviction settlement..."Federal authorities opened a civil rights investigation into allegations of misconduct by police and prosecutors against the four men, but no charges resulted. The investigation has since been closed. That investigation produced an unusual document from March 2012 that summarized an interview an FBI special agent conducted with former Assistant State's Attorney Terence Johnson, one of two prosecutors in the felony review unit who worked with detectives to take statements and approve charges against the four men. Johnson, whose legal career ended in 2000 when he was convicted of felony sexual abuse of a minor, alleged a cozy relationship between police and prosecutors. If police felt prosecutors were slow to approve charges, they would complain to supervisors in the state's attorney's office, Johnson said in the interview. The city’s Law Department alleged in court filings that Johnson made other statements under oath — including during a deposition — that were inconsistent with his FBI interview. In his FBI interview, Johnson said that the investigation of the Glover homicide made him uncomfortable from the early stages. He told federal investigators that detectives "coached and fed" witnesses and pressured the defendants into confessing. Before statements were taken, Cassidy and Boudreau rehearsed with witnesses what they wanted them to say and corrected their responses if they weren't consistent with that version of events, according to the report."


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "After he was released from prison in 2011, Swift sought to use forensic testing to clear himself in the killing of Glover, who was found in a trash bin in the South Side neighborhood. DNA from the crime scene turned out to match Douglas, who had a lengthy criminal history. Prosecutors initially sought to explain the DNA link by saying that Glover's history of trading sex for drugs meant she might have had consensual sex with Douglas and that he was not her killer."

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Charles Smith Blog  is interested in false confessions because of the disturbing number of exonerations in the USA, Canada and multiple other jurisdictions throughout the world, where, in the absence of incriminating forensic evidence the conviction is based on self-incrimination – and because of the growing body of  scientific research showing how vulnerable suspects    (especially juveniles)  are to widely used interrogation methods  such as  the notorious ‘Reid Technique.’

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

-----------------------------------------------------------


STORY:  "City proposes $31 million settlement for Englewood Four's wrongful conviction," by reporter Dan Hinkel, published by The Chicago Tribune on December 8, 2017.

PHOTO CAPTION: "Harold Richardson, from left, Vincent Thames, Terrill Swift and Michael Saunders were convicted of a 1994 rape and murder but later were cleared."
 



GIST: "Chicago officials are poised to approve one of the largest payouts for police misconduct litigation in city history — nearly $31 million to settle lawsuits filed by the “Englewood Four,” who each spent some 15 years in prison for a 1994 rape and murder before DNA linked the crime to a convicted killer. The settlement would add to the hundreds of millions of dollars that taxpayers have shelled out in the last decade for a seemingly unending string of lawsuits alleging misconduct by the troubled Chicago Police Department. Just six weeks ago, a federal jury awarded a record-breaking $44.7 million in damages. On Monday, the City Council’s Finance Committee is scheduled to consider paying out $30.99 million to Michael Saunders, Vincent Thames, Harold Richardson and Terrill Swift, who were teens when they were arrested in the slaying of 30-year-old Nina Glover. City Council approval of recommended legal settlements is generally a formality. The four were convicted largely on their confessions, but they later alleged their statements were coerced. Forensic testing in 2011 matched DNA from Glover’s body to Johnny Douglas, a convicted murderer and sex offender shot to death in 2008. A judge threw out their convictions over the objections of prosecutors from the office of then-State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.While the proposed settlement would be one of the largest such payouts in city history, it will be divided among the men. The city has repeatedly paid out multimillion-dollar settlements or verdicts to individual plaintiffs in wrongful conviction or misconduct lawsuits.........Three of the men are still suing Cook County based on the allegation that prosecutors helped railroad them. Swift has already reached a $5.6 million settlement with the county......... Among the law enforcement officials sued was Kenneth Boudreau, a former detective whose history of obtaining dubious confessions has been detailed in past Tribune stories. The suits also named James Cassidy, a former detective who also allegedly helped obtain a false confession in a 1998 killing. The men have denied any wrongdoing, and neither could be reached Friday. Alexa Van Brunt, one of Swift’s lawyers, said the proposed settlement’s size signifies the egregiousness of the harm done to the men, as well as the blemished records of the officers involved. “I think there is just a realization that a lot of constitutional rights were being violated in Area One in the 1990s, and this case is just one really horrific example,” she said. After he was released from prison in 2011, Swift sought to use forensic testing to clear himself in the killing of Glover, who was found in a trash bin in the South Side neighborhood. DNA from the crime scene turned out to match Douglas, who had a lengthy criminal history. Prosecutors initially sought to explain the DNA link by saying that Glover's history of trading sex for drugs meant she might have had consensual sex with Douglas and that he was not her killer. Alvarez abandoned the prosecution in 2012, but she stopped short of agreeing that the men were innocent. Federal authorities opened a civil rights investigation into allegations of misconduct by police and prosecutors against the four men, but no charges resulted. The investigation has since been closed. That investigation produced an unusual document from March 2012 that summarized an interview an FBI special agent conducted with former Assistant State's Attorney Terence Johnson, one of two prosecutors in the felony review unit who worked with detectives to take statements and approve charges against the four men. Johnson, whose legal career ended in 2000 when he was convicted of felony sexual abuse of a minor, alleged a cozy relationship between police and prosecutors. If police felt prosecutors were slow to approve charges, they would complain to supervisors in the state's attorney's office, Johnson said in the interview. The city’s Law Department alleged in court filings that Johnson made other statements under oath — including during a deposition — that were inconsistent with his FBI interview. In his FBI interview, Johnson said that the investigation of the Glover homicide made him uncomfortable from the early stages. He told federal investigators that detectives "coached and fed" witnesses and pressured the defendants into confessing. Before statements were taken, Cassidy and Boudreau rehearsed with witnesses what they wanted them to say and corrected their responses if they weren't consistent with that version of events, according to the report."

The entire story can be found at:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-englewood-four-multimillion-settlement-20171208-story.html

See previous post (January 17, 2012) of this Blog at the link below: 'Bulletin: Englewood Four finally exonerated. Arrests due to false confessions; not a shred of physical evidence.'..."Saunders, Richardson, Thames and Swift have spent most of their adult lives in prison. They were between the ages of 15 and 18 when they arrested. Based on false confessions and without a shred of physical evidence, they were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 30-40 years in prison. Their cases, and others in Cook County, reveal a dangerous pattern of injustice based on false confessions. The Innocence Project is calling on Cook County to conduct a review of all cases involving juvenile confessions. In the past four months, ten people have been exonerated through DNA testing in Illinois after being unjustly convicted based on confessions they gave as teenagers."
 http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2012/01/bulletin-englewood-four-finally.html?m=0

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Shaken baby syndrome: Part 2: Zavion Johnson: California; Major development: Shaken baby syndrome; Freed After 15 Years into a life sentence for death of 4-month-old daughter..."Fifteen years after Johnson received a life sentence for the shaking death of his 4-month-old daughter, he's set to walk out of prison amid controversy over the medical experts' testimony that convicted him. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles set aside Johnson's second-degree murder conviction on Friday, after prosecutors agreed that current medical science wouldn't support his conviction."..." At trial, more than a dozen witnesses described him as a gentle and caring father. Johnson testified that he accidentally dropped the 4-month-old in the bathtub while rinsing her off in the shower. She hit her head and later stopped breathing, he said. Medical experts testified that the girl had a fractured skull and said her injuries were evidence of abuse. However, two prosecution experts later repudiated some of their testimony and said that based on new scientific views, the evidence didn’t clearly rule out an accident. On Friday, a state judge set aside Johnson’s conviction."


STORY: "California Man Freed After 15 Years for Shaken Baby Death," by Don Thompson, Associated Press, published by Forensic Magazine on December 11, 2017. (Thanks to Forensic Magazine for drawing this case to our attention);

PHOTO CAPTION: "This photo provided by the Northern California Innocence Project shows Zavion Johnson, right, with members of his legal team in court in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Fifteen years after Johnson received a life sentence for the shaking death of his 4-month-old daughter, he's set to walk out of prison amid controversy over the medical experts' testimony that convicted him. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles set aside Johnson's second-degree murder conviction on Friday, after prosecutors agreed that current medical science wouldn't support his conviction."

GIST: "A California man who spent 15 years in prison for shaking his baby to death was freed Saturday, one day after a judge set aside his conviction. Zavion Johnson, 34, walked out of the Sacramento County jail, where he was being held while his court case was heard. He had been serving a sentence of 25 years to life at a state prison in Vacaville. Johnson was “both loving and trying to adjust to freedom,” said his attorney, Paige Kaneb with the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law. Johnson was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2001 death of his daughter, Nadia. At trial, more than a dozen witnesses described him as a gentle and caring father. Johnson testified that he accidentally dropped the 4-month-old in the bathtub while rinsing her off in the shower. She hit her head and later stopped breathing, he said. Medical experts testified that the girl had a fractured skull and said her injuries were evidence of abuse. However, two prosecution experts later repudiated some of their testimony and said that based on new scientific views, the evidence didn’t clearly rule out an accident. On Friday, a state judge set aside Johnson’s conviction. “I’m hoping for a positive future — for my life to begin,” Johnson said in a statement released by his attorneys after that ruling. Johnson will remain free while prosecutors decide whether to seek a new trial. His is among a nationwide series of recent legal challenges to what used to be accepted evidence of “shaken baby syndrome.” At least 14 people nationwide had already been exonerated since 2011 in shaken baby cases, attorneys said, citing the National Registry of Exonerations. Northwestern University’s Medill Justice Project said in 2015 that there were more than 3,000 shaken baby syndrome cases nationwide, though attorneys said it’s not clear how many might have resulted in wrongful convictions. “Research and scientific studies conducted after the date of Zavion Johnson’s trial have altered the opinions of the prosecution experts,” Sacramento County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi said in a statement Friday. “A prosecutor’s duty is not simply to win cases but to ensure that each defendant is accorded procedural justice and guilt is decided upon the basis of sufficient evidence.” Johnson’s attorneys have already filed a motion seeking to have any new charges dismissed at his next hearing on Jan. 19, based on a lack of evidence beyond the experts’ medical testimony."

The entire story can be found at:

https://www.forensicmag.com/news/2017/12/california-man-freed-after-15-years-shaken-baby-death?et_cid=6205872&et_rid=979655504&location=top&et_cid=6205872&et_rid=979655504&linkid=https%3a%2f%2fwww.forensicmag.com%2fnews%2f2017%2f12%2fcalifornia-man-freed-after-15-years-shaken-baby-death%3fet_cid%3d6205872%26et_rid%3d%%subscriberid%%%26location%3dtop

See Innocence Project release at the link below: (Zavion Johnson walks free 17 years after wrongfully convicted of killing his infant daughter.)

 https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=wm#all/1604c9bf1a24cdbe

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

Shaken Baby Syndrome: (Part 1): An in-depth analyis by author Will Storr published by The Guardian: ‘We believe you harmed your child’: the war over shaken baby convictions'..." Both sides boast their own authoritative specialists, steeped in the science, many of whom are informed by a lifetime’s clinical or laboratory experience. But the consequences could hardly be more grave. It’s impossible to find accurate figures on charges or convictions, because shaking-related charges are brought in myriad ways, including manslaughter, child abuse, grievous bodily harm, child neglect and so on. It is believed, though, that about 250 shaken baby prosecutions are heard in the UK every year. In the US, the figure is more like 1,500 – and there are thought to be at least five parents currently on death row, awaiting execution for shaking their babies to death."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The brutal attack in the UK and elsewhere on skeptics such as Dr Waney Squier who have identified dozens of cases in North America and abroad  of parents and caregivers who have  been wrongfully accused of harming children on the basis of  the so-called "shaken baby syndrome." As author Will Storr  points out in this lengthy probe: ""Expert witnesses who claim parents have been wrongly accused have been vilified and struck off. But the science is anything but certain. What happens to the truth when experts can’t agree?"

STORY: ‘We believe you harmed your child’: the war over shaken baby convictions," by Will Storr, published by The Guardian on December 8, 2017. (Will Storr is an award winning writer and photographer. He is the author of three critically acclaimed books including The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science and the novel The Hunger and the Howling of Killian Lone)

SUB-HEADING: "Expert witnesses who claim parents have been wrongly accused have been vilified and struck off. But the science is anything but certain. What happens to the truth when experts can’t agree?"

PHOTO CAPTION: "Dr Waney Squier, who was struck off the medical register over her scepticism about shaken baby syndrome, but later exonerated."



GIST:  This comprehensive, insightful, often moving, if not maddening article describes: "a war that is being played out in courtroom after courtroom – with the fate of the accused parents hanging on how well one expert or another happens to make their case.  On one side, there’s the view of the police, prosecutors and the medical establishment: when this triad of symptoms is found, it very strongly suggests shaking, even when other signs that a baby has been aggressively shaken, such as bruising, neck injuries or fractures, are absent. The establishment insists it is solely motivated by a desire to protect babies from dangerous parents; it sometimes characterises opponents as seeking fame, or lucrative expert-witness pay cheques. On the other side are the sceptics. They insist the prosecutorial forces aren’t concerned with justice so much as courtroom victories. They point to high-profile cases in which triad prosecutions have been overturned, and parents who have been wrongfully imprisoned and had children taken away. They say you can’t look at an x-ray or scan and deduce that a baby has been shaken. According to leading sceptics such as Dr John Plunkett, of the Regina Hospital in Hastings, Minnesota, shaking doesn’t even cause the triad. “You can’t cause these injuries by shaking,” he says. “It’s something else; the kid has banged its head on the ground or there’s some other underlying disease.” Both sides boast their own authoritative specialists, steeped in the science, many of whom are informed by a lifetime’s clinical or laboratory experience. But the consequences could hardly be more grave. It’s impossible to find accurate figures on charges or convictions, because shaking-related charges are brought in myriad ways, including manslaughter, child abuse, grievous bodily harm, child neglect and so on. It is believed, though, that about 250 shaken baby prosecutions are heard in the UK every year. In the US, the figure is more like 1,500 – and there are thought to be at least five parents currently on death row, awaiting execution for shaking their babies to death." This article also describes the brutal attacks by some police and the medical establishment on researchers, such as Dr. Waney Squier, who risk their professional standing by denying  the existence of 'The Syndrome.' As the sub-heading clearly states:  "Expert witnesses who claim parents have been wrongly accused have been vilified and struck off. But the science is anything but certain. What happens to the truth when experts can’t agree?" A story well worth reading.  HL;

The entire story can be found  at:
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/08/shaken-baby-syndrome-war-over-convictions

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview: (FETI): (Part 3): A matter of growing concern: Wall Street Journal reports, "Police nationwide are using Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview techniques, but it can be a hard sell."..."A typical five-day training course costs $1,690. For the New York Police Department the course runs seven days and trainers hold sessions at the new police academy in Queens. This year, the NYPD said it is spending $850,000 on FETI. Carrie Hull, who works with Mr. Strand at the Oregon-based Certified FETI training first responders, is developing a certificate course to identify departments that are properly using FETI."...Publisher's note: "Why are so many police forces spending large amounts of time and money on a technique which may ultimately not survive thorough evaluation through the scientific method?"


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Wall Street Journal  story recognizes the degree to which Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) is sweeping across America as "police nation wide are using Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview techniques.' Indeed, we are told that in New York City alone, "A typical five-day training course costs $1,690. For the New York Police Department the course runs seven days and trainers hold sessions at the new police academy in Queens. This year, the NYPD said it is spending $850,000 on FETI. As stressed earlier in this Blog's series on FETI - with reference to a top level U.S. Air Force report explaining why the Air Force has rejected the technique - serious questions have been raised as to the scientific validity of the technique. Which makes me wonder, why are so many police forces spending large amounts of time and  money on  a technique which may  ultimately not survive thorough  evaluation through the scientific method?

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

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STORY: "Some Officers Are Wary of New SVU Technique Police nationwide are using Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview techniques, but it can be a hard sell,"  by reporter Zolan Kanno-Youngs, published by The Wall Street Journal on December 10, 2017.

SUB-HEADING: "Police nationwide are using Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview techniques, but it can be a hard sell.

PHOTO CAPTION:  "New York Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Osgood, head of the Special Victims Division, said he learned about the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview training in February 2016."

GIST:  "Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview training was developed in 2009 when Russell Strand, a retired army special agent, responded to a mass shooting at the Fort Hood army base in Texas and asked traumatized soldiers what they were thinking, instead of pressing for details about the incident.
He now trains other first responders around the U.S. in the technique. From Oregon to New Hampshire, police departments are learning how to question people using FETI.

–– ADVERTISEMENT ––
A typical five-day training course costs $1,690. For the New York Police Department the course runs seven days and trainers hold sessions at the new police academy in Queens. This year, the NYPD said it is spending $850,000 on FETI.
Carrie Hull, who works with Mr. Strand at the Oregon-based Certified FETI training first responders, is developing a certificate course to identify departments that are properly using FETI.
A former detective in Ashland, Ore., Ms. Hull knows it can be difficult to get police to change. “My favorite part about law enforcement is they are skeptical of things,” she said.
New York Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Osgood, head of the Special Victims Division, said he learned about the training in February 2016.
After investigating about 14,000 rapes, he knew it was normal for sex-assault victims to forget details of their trauma. He thought FETI could help, but recalled thinking, “I don’t know if I can teach this to the detectives.”
He took one of his more “experienced, gritty” sergeants, Michael Bock, to a week-long FETI training course Oregon in March 2016. Mr. Bock, who retired this year, was open to the program because he knew the traditional approach wasn’t working. “We were like a processing plant,” Mr. Bock said. The victims “come in…and then they move along.”
When Mr. Bock bought in to the technique, most Special Victims Division detectives followed. But there are still doubters, he said.
“They think, now you’re a therapist,” he said of some of his former colleagues. “I don’t believe you’re a therapist, I just think it’s a way of extracting information.” "

The entire story can be found at: 
 https://www.wsj.com/articles/some-officers-are-wary-of-new-technique-1512933628

See related Wall Street Journal story at the link below: " The NYPD’s Real SVU Is Changing Its Approach to Sex Crimes; Police typically press victims for basic details, but a new technique teaches them to ask more open-ended questions."..."The Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview technique teaches that such details are stored in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which shuts down during traumatic events. In FETI training, the detectives are instructed to ask broad questions that tap into a victim’s primitive brain, which maintains sensory information of those events. Channeling this part of the brain can result in a more substantial narrative, said Deputy Chief Michael Osgood, head of the Special Victims Division.c“When you say, ‘What did you feel?’ they can now go to their experienced part of the brain and their sensory part of the brain and they now start telling you stuff,” he explained."

https://www.wsj.com/articles/questioning-sex-assault-victims-using-a-new-approach-gets-results-1512934428

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview: (FETI); Part 2: A matter of growing concern. Report obtained by this Blog indicates 'FETI' has been rejected by the U.S. Air Force..."Given the lack of empirical evidence on FETI’s effectiveness, and the large number of investigative, professional and scientific concerns regarding FETI and FETI training, the Air Force does not consider FETI as a viable option for investigative interviewing. We believe it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to discontinue the use of a robust, well-studied, effective, and empirically-validated interviewing method that is supported by the latest scientific research (the Cognitive Interview), in favor of an interviewing method that is loosely constructed, is based on flawed science, makes unfounded claims about its effectiveness, and has never once been tested, studied, researched or validated (FETI)."

 

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  In an article cited in Part 1  of this series on 'Forensic Experiential Trauma interview' - a matter of growing concern - author Emily Green writes that "Investigators in the U.S. Army have fully adopted the FETI approach, and it’s quickly taking hold in other branches of the military as well." According to a fascinating report which I have obtained, this is not exactly the case. It  is called "Report to Congressional Commitees: Report on the use of the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) Technique within the Department of the Air Force. The Executive Summary of this report states: "Given the lack of empirical evidence on FETI’s effectiveness, and the large number of investigative, professional and scientific concerns regarding FETI and FETI training, the Air Force does not consider FETI as a viable option for investigative interviewing. We believe it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to discontinue the use of a robust, well-studied, effective, and empirically-validated interviewing method that is supported by the latest scientific research (the Cognitive Interview), in favor of an interviewing method that is loosely constructed, is based on flawed science, makes unfounded claims about its effectiveness, and has never once been tested, studied, researched or validated (FETI)." The Executive Summary also indicates: "U.S. Air Force sexual assault investigators and Air Force judge advocates are trained to use the Cognitive Interview technique for interviewing victims of sexual assault. The Air Force does not train or utilize the FETI technique, and has no plans to do so in the future. The decision to select the Cognitive Interview, and to eliminate FETI as a viable option, resulted from exhaustive research and consultation with leading subject matter experts. The Cognitive Interview is a very robust, well-studied, effective, empirically-validated interviewing method that is supported by the latest scientific research. In contrast, FETI has never been empirically studied or validated. Given the lack of any empirical evidence on FETI’s effectiveness, and the large number of investigative, professional and scientific concerns about FETI and FETI training, the Air Force does not consider FETI as a viable option for investigative interviewing. In addition to providing the attached subject matter expert reviews, AFOSI will gladly provide any additional supporting document."  The report is a big deal - and sends out the message in the strongest terms  that FETI must be closely scrutinized and carefully validated  before it is ever  accepted as evidence in the courts.  It was commissioned by the U.S Senate and  sent by Air Force specifically to Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Committee on Armed Services, Jack Reid, Ranking member of the Committee on Armed Services, and Mac Thornberry, Chairman of the Committee on  Armed Services of The U.S. House of Representatives. Most importantly, the report is based on contributions from highly respected consultants, whose work in enclosed in appendices to the report. Here are some capsules: 


Christian A. Meissner: PhD; Iowa State University; "A through search of the available research literature yielded no published peer review studies on the efficacy or the effectiveness of FETI. The supporting materials developed by Strand and colleagues provided no empirical  evidence to support these claims of effectiveness - no experimental or field studies have been offered comparing the effectiveness of FETI to either existing practice or other comparable methods developed within the empirical literature ...Only anecdotal claims (testimonials) are provided to bolster some degree of efficacy and relevance to forensic practice - an insufficient basis upon which to rest claims of effectiveness."


Charles A. Morgan; MD; MA: University of New Haven; "In my opinion, it is in a reasonable degree  of medical certainty that" FETI does NOT represent a best practice standard  for the assessment of people with PTSD; FETI does not represent a clinical best practice standard for the assessment of trauma related memories; FETI does not represent a valid scientific representation of the nature of neurobiology, brain functioning and human memory. Put bluntly, there is NO scientific evidence to support the idea that FETI should be offered as a valid clinical method for working with victims of trauma."

 

Susan E. Brandon; PhD and Sujeeta Bhatt, PhD; High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group;  "The notion that trauma victims/witnesses should be interviewed differently then  non-trauma victims/witnesses because of different memory processes, is not supported by science. Even if trauma memories were different from non-trauma memories, there are no data  showing that different interview methods are necessary. However,  it is reasonable to assume that victims or witnesses of trauma require additional displays of empathy  and assurances that make feel safe (as noted by Strand (undated), relative to victims/witnesses of non-traumatic events."


Daniel J. Neller; PsyD, ABPP (Forensic); Directorate of Psychological Operations, U.S. Army Special Operations Cmd. "It is worth noting that the FETI is offered as a technique to collect nonphysical evidence. Just as techniques that collect physical evidence can be subjected to admissibility challenges, so, too, can techniques that collect nonphysical evidence. To the extent that FETI-informed testimony is based on scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge, its admissibility can be challenged in courts of law. To date, the FETI evidently has not been studied with rigorous empirical testing; has not been subjected to formal peer review and publication; does not have a known or potential error rate; and does not clearly enjoy widespread acceptance  within the forensic  and law enforcement community. Consequently, and robust challenge to the admissibility of FETI-based testimony could result in its exclusion, thereby jeopardizing the effective prosecution of a sexual assault case."


Linda S. Estes, PhD and Jeane M. Lambrecht, PsyD, Major, USAF Air Force Office of  Special Investigations.  (Because of their experience as investigative psychologists, they were asked to assess   sections of a course in which students were taught "memory, trauma and the Forensic Experiential Trauma  (FETI) Interviewing Technique.) "We do not disagree that sensory details and emotion consistent with an allegation add to statement credibility and make for a more credible and sympathetic victim in court. However, we are concerned with calling this "evidence"  and particularly with the implication that retrieving emotion equals proof of trauma. At one point, the instructor stated; "Behavior after the event can be used to show evidence of non-consent." This seemed to imply that symptoms of PTSD or trauma-related anxiety cab be used as evidence to show that a crime had been committed. There is a danger of faulty reasoning here - if there is emotion present, one must have been traumatized, even if one cannot retrieve the memory. This exact type of reasoning became endemic in the therapeutic community decades ago as part of the "recovered memory" movement, which led to many false accusations of abuse. In fact, the recovered memory movement relied heavily on the same sources (such as literature on "body memory") cited in this course. As noted above, memory is susceptible to suggestion, even in adults, and some individuals are mire susceptible to suggestion than others.. We do not feel it is prudent to present sensory details and emotion as "evidence" of an allegation and we are concerned that using this terminology could lead our investigators to be discredited in court."


The entire Executive Summary and Report can be read at the link below:

 

 https://drive.google.com/file/d/10wN-5j23K3vNolsOjcc5iyW-LEUHLrYL/view?usp=sharing

 
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.