A Judge Says Shaken-Baby Cases Rely on ‘Junk Science’
After his 11-month-old son showed signs of neurological damage in 2017, Darryl Nieves was charged with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child. The indictment alleged that Nieves had injured the toddler, who was born prematurely with severe medical problems, by violently shaking him—an example of “abusive head trauma” (AHT), a.k.a. “shaken baby syndrome.” But earlier this year, the judge presiding over Nieves’ trial expressed appropriate skepticism about the very concept of AHT, which has been crucial in many dubious child abuse cases.
In a January 7 decision, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. barred testimony from AHT experts, saying the diagnosis is “akin to ‘junk science.'” Jimenez is one of many critics who have questioned the reliability of shaken-baby convictions.
Child abuse specialists identify suspected AHT cases by a “triad” of symptoms: bleeding in the brain, bleeding in the eyes, and neurological impairment. But as Jimenez explained, that diagnosis is not supported by a scientific consensus, and
Article from Reason.com