What Qualities Should You Look for When You Are Considering Retaining an Attorney to Defend a Case Involving Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Interviewer: When someone is seeking a lawyer to represent them for a case like this, what are some things that they should be looking for? At the same time, what are some red flags to watch out for?
The Attorney Should Have a Strong Medical Science Background about Shaken Baby Syndrome
Paul Cramm: You need to find a lawyer who actually understands the basics of the medical science behind the allegation of shaken baby syndrome. You need to find a lawyer who understands exactly what retinal hemorrhage is, how to identify it and what the causes of retinal hemorrhage may be, separate and independent from physical trauma or injury. You need to find a lawyer who understands the science and the medicine behind hypoxia, oxygen deprivation, cerebral edema.
It’s a very specialized practice and it’s not fair to the client for a lawyer with zero fundamental knowledge of these things to think they can rely on the expert to fill in the blanks. A lawyer who doesn’t understand the medicine or the science behind these types of injuries is not going to ask the correct questions of their own expert to allow their expert to educate the jury.
More importantly, a lawyer who doesn’t understand these things is not going to be able to effectively cross examine the county coroner or the expert called by the prosecutor. I think it’s important to find counsel who actually would have some experience or background in these issues to do an effective job of cross examining the State’s case and an effective job of presenting your own case.
Interviewer: Why should someone contact you, particularly, as a lawyer? What can you do to help someone?
Does the Attorney Have Access to the Right Medical Professionals to Testify for the Defense?
Paul Cramm: First and foremost, if someone contacts me, they know that this is not my first trip through these allegations or this subject matter. They know that I’m familiar with it. They know that I’ve handled these cases before. They’ve got a lawyer who knows what’s going on. Equally important, they get a lawyer who has a Rolodex and can dial a phone number and in the same business day get a call back from three or four of the preeminent medical and forensic experts in the field.
These are professionals who I have worked with, people who I have met with and sat down in my conference room and discussed with. These are the experts who have testified for me during a case. It’s important to have the right experts, because these cases really are a team effort.
It Is Important to Realize That Shaken Baby Syndrome Diagnosis Has Changed since its Origin in the 1970s
Interviewer: What other information can you provide to us or what other suggestions or a notable point that you can make about the shaken baby syndrome that you can share with us?
Paul Cramm: Initially, I’m going to say that shaken baby syndrome as proposed in the early ’70s really doesn’t exist. Clearly, clearly there are children who are injured deliberately and intentionally all the time. It’s terrible and the folks that do that should have to answer for their actions. It also is far too common that a completely innocent caregiver is suspected or accused of doing something that they did not do.
Always Invoke Your Right to Counsel during Allegations of Child Abuse
Our system is premised upon the belief that it is far better for ten people who are actually guilty to go free, than for one person who is actually innocent to be convicted. For that reason, protect your rights, invoke your rights, and do not answer questions of law enforcement.
Contact experienced counsel right away and be prepared to make an investment in the appropriate experts to consult and work with you and testify if necessary. This is going to be a long and difficult journey. Make sure you pick the right lawyer and the right experts to take this journey with you.
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- Common Misconceptions about Shaken Baby Syndrome